New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday strongly defended demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and ripped into the opposition over Parliament logjam, saying unlike earlier when opposition parties stalled the House against scams, Congress-led parties are now doing so against government’s steps to curb black money and corruption.
“We needed to do it in 1971. We have caused huge losses by not doing this since 1971,” Modi told BJP MPs, lashing out at the Congress for not taking effective measures to curb black money in the country.
The Prime Minister referred to former bureaucrat Madhav Godbole’s book in which he has recorded how then Home Minister YB Chavan had recommended demonetisation to curb ill-gotten and hidden wealth. “Godbole says in the book that Gandhi replied saying ‘are no more elections to be fought by the Congress’? Chavan got the message and the recommendation was (dropped),” Modi said.
“This was in 1971 when everybody recommended this. Had it (demonetisation) been done in 1971, the nation wouldn’t have been in this situation today.”
The recording of the Prime Minister’s speech was broadcast hours after he addressed the BJP parliamentary party. Modi’s remarks at the BJP parliamentary party meeting came on the last day of the winter session, which has been a washout due to impasse over demonetisation.
Targeting Congress, the Prime Minister alleged that it has always put its interest over that of the country while for the BJP the nation’s interests are supreme.
He again pitched for digital economy as he appealed to the masses to adopt it as a “way of life” to rid the society of corruption and black money. Attacking former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been unsparing in his criticism of demonetisation, Modi said he advocated strong measures against corruption and black money but did “nothing” during his rule of 10 years.
He also cited late Left stalwart Harkishan Singh Surjeet to support his government’s action. “Earlier the ruling side, especially Congress, would commit scams like 2G, coal-gate, Bofors and the opposition would then unite and fight against it on the principle of honesty.
“But now the ruling side, the BJP-led NDA, has started a campaign again black money and corruption and opposition parties are standing against it,” he said.
Modi also noted that the Wanchoo Committee in early 70s had recommended demonetisation when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister, recalling that the then senior Left leader Jyotirmoy Basu had demanded its quick implementation, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters following the meeting.
“The Wanchoo committee had said it will boost economy. Now after 45 years we have done demonetisation but Congress is opposing it. The Left has also joined hands with Congress,” he said.
Painting Congress as a “votary of corruption”, he said it had made a law against benami assets in 1988 but never notified it or framed rules and regulations, ensuring that the legislation never came into force.
“For us, the country’s interests are always above the party’s. For Congress, party’s interests are above the country’s,” the PM said.
On a day that marks the anniversary of Bangladesh’s liberation, Modi also targeted the opposition over its remarks on the Army’s surgical strikes.