New Delhi, Just hours before the tumultuous Winter Session was adjourned sine die, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled instances from history to counter the Congress and the Communists.
Modi spoke from the BJP parliamentary party meeting platform castigating the Opposition for “getting together to support the dishonest” and disrupting the House. Amidst the standoff on the debate on demonetization, the Winter Session was a near washout.
He went back to 1971 twice — once in the context of the India-Pakistan war and the second on the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi turning down the advice to demonetize. Referring to the Wanchoo Committee report, which had recommended demonetization of certain currencies to curb black money, Modi said it was a necessity felt at that time. “By not doing so for so many years, you have caused damage to the country,” he said.
Quoting from Madhav Godbole’s book “Unfinished Innings: Recollections and Reflections of a Civil Servant”, Modi said that when the then finance minister YB Chavan went to meet Indira Gandhi and proposed implementation of demonetization, she asked Chavan “are no more elections to be fought by the Congress party”. The suggestion was shelved.
Modi then went on to ask “dal bada hai ki desh (is party bigger or country)?…For the Congress it was the party, but for us it is the country.” He said that if the measure had been taken in 1971, there would not have been “so much damage”.
He also took on another Congress leader — former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — who had launched a scathing attack on demonetization describing it as “organised plunder and legalised loot”. Modi cited Singh’s remarks in 1991 about taking strong measures against tax evaders, and said his language has changed now.
In 1988, the Congress had made a law against benami assets but did not notify or frame rules for it, Modi said, adding his government will take steps to ensure its implementation.
Recalling remarks made by Communists—Jyotirmai Basu and Harkishen Singh Surjeet—on demonetization to curb black money, the Prime Minister said the Communist parties have compromised with their ideology.
Modi, who dubbed the face off in Parliament as that of the Opposition resisting the government’s battle against corruption, said this “fall in political values was cause for concern.”
In an apparent reference to disruptions in Parliament when the BJP was in Opposition, he said the hurdles in the House were caused because of corruption cases that had surfaced against the government. “This is the first time that treasury benches are taking steps against corruption and opposition is getting together to support the dishonest… Some have had the courage to speak openly in favour of the corrupt.”
The Prime Minister has spoken of demonetization in every weekly meeting with his party MPs during the Winter Session.
Modi also made a reference to the Opposition’s approach to the surgical strikes across the LoC, saying on December 16, 1971, the Opposition had not sought any proof from the government about the action of the Armed Forces.
He said despite several being against the BJP or NDA, there were several “with us” and thanked Bihar and Odisha chief ministers—Nitish Kumar and Naveen Patnaik for their support in the fight against corruption.
While the Congress and Left have not opposed demonetization, they have attacked the government on the inconvenience caused to people after the announcement was made.
Modi recalled “Panchari Niti” to say that wealth acquired through dishonest means can survive only for ten years and gets destroyed in the 11th year, an apparent reference to the Congress which had ruled from 2004-2014.
Describing the decision to ban notes of 500 and 1000 as a “step and not the final goal”, he said the government needed to take tough decisions in the interests of the common man. Modi also talked about his government’s push for digital India saying “digital is a process to change the way of life and economy. It will benefit everyone.”
Speaking on the benefits of a cashless economy, he said loans would be sanctioned for traders within 6-10 minutes. “Under the Digi Dhan Yojna, merchants and traders can get loans within 6 minutes.”.
The PM said 15,000 rewards will be handed out beginning this Christmas. “We want to incentivise the use of digital transactions,” he said.