PROMISING a new nation in a new year and a clean-up of what he called the 70-year-old slush pile of black money, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his party MPs Tuesday that the decision to demonetise notes of higher denomination was to help the poor.
Cautioning the party against drawing “unfair” parallels between the demonetisation and the surgical strike on terror launch pads along the LoC, Modi said that more “steps” would be taken to fight black money and corruption. He assured partymen that the country will start reaping the benefits of the scheme after 50 days.
Addressing the BJP parliamentary party, Modi said: “Na apne liye, na apnon ka” (not for myself nor for my dear ones). I am here to work for the welfare of the poor and I will keep doing it.” He said the demonetisation was needed to “correct the system which has accumulated 70 years of black money and corruption”.
WATCH VIDEO: Demonetisation: Relief For Common Man: Find Out More
“When systemic changes happen, there will be some trouble. But the whole nation is supporting this. The positive response has been beyond my expectations,” the Prime Minister was quoted as saying by a party source. He said he had given several warnings of measures against black money and, in his recent speeches, had spoken on a cashless economy.
“No one can say it was without warning. I have given adequate alerts in my speeches. It’s not my fault if some people have not got the message,” he was quoted saying.
Modi, BJP sources said, broke down twice during his address — once when he referred to the poor and again while speaking on the surgical strikes. “The PM got emotional recalling the sacrifices made by soldiers… who risked their lives, crossed the border and attacked militants.” Modi said the demonetisation process is a “great move but not as big as the surgical strike.”
“There will be a new India in the New Year… Naya saal, naya Bharat. You go to people and explain that our fight is against black money, corruption, counterfeit notes and terror funding,” he was quoted saying.
The resolution, moved by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and seconded by Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, praised the Prime Minister and described the queues outside banks of the “common man and the other honest people” as the “most profound statement ever made in our country in recent times”. The resolution, which was passed by MPs with a standing ovation to the Prime Minister, said: “Every major transformational initiative results in some discomfort to start with. Initial pain leads to substantial gain.”
The parliamentary party condemned the “malicious efforts of some political parties who are desperate to provoke violence and chaos” since they were rattled by popular support for the scheme. “At this crucial juncture, political parties have to choose whether they would stand by the government and the people or protect the interest of black money hoarders,” the BJP said.
Hours later, Modi underlined this message at a book release function in memory of Kedarnath Sahni, a prominent leader of the Jan Sangh and then in BJP in Delhi.
“I see this unfortunate trend that there are people in public life who have been emboldened to make speeches in favour of corruption. They are openly coming out in favour of corruption, in favour of black money (Main dekh raha hoon ki durbhagya yah ki aaj saarvjanik jeevan mein yeh himmat aa rahi hai ki corruption ke paksh me bhashan log kar paa rahe hain, corruption ke paksh me, kaale dhan ke paksh me, khule aam maidan me utar rahe hain),” the Prime Minister said speaking at the release of a book published in the memory of late party veteran Kedarnath Sahni, a prominent leader of the Jan Sangh and then in BJP in Delhi.
Claiming that there was a deterioration in values, Modi said that a “small section” is daring to stand up and say it stands with the corrupt. Praising Sahni for his probity in public life, Modi said, “Your life should be spotless if you are living for the nation. But the kind of deterioration that is happening in values is there to see. There was a time when people used to suffer for not accepting corruption. Then times changed. Compromise started and people started offering bribe for personal work. Then times further changed, the value system fell so much (that) people started saying that corruption is no longer an issue as it has become part of life.”
“There may be some people who do not have the courage to fight corruption and society forgives them but people who become the torch-bearers of evil create a very big crisis before the nation. Generations won’t forgive those who betray basic values,” he added.
In a message to the Opposition which has closed ranks against him leading to the current logjam in the House, Modi recalled how Sahni had advised then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit of the Congress on various issues like handling the power crisis in the state as well on shifting to CNG as fuel. “This is an example of conduct in public life. The nation is bigger than the party.”
Modi also referred to the 1975 Emergency and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots to underline Sahni’s contribution. “After Mrs Gandhi was killed, the manner in which a genocide happened and Sikh families were massacred in Delhi…at such a time Sahni ji gave shelter to Sikh families without any fear. The influence of the rulers of that that time was known to all. Even during Emergency, the atmosphere was the same.”