Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the corrupt were upset while the poor were “enjoying a sound sleep” after his decision to demonetise currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. PM Modi also urged people to bear some inconvenience to root out graft.
“After demonetisation, the poor are enjoying a sound sleep while rich are running from pillar to post to buy sleeping pills,” Modi said as he tried to rally public support in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, picking up from where he left yesterday in his speeches laced with emotion and aggression in Goa and Belagavi.
Stating that he understood the inconvenience being faced by people due to demonetisation, Modi compared his action to a new whitewash which gives out pungent smell, but is necessary.
“My decision is a little harsh. When I was young, poor people used to ask for ‘kadak’ (strong) tea but it spoils the mood of rich,” he said at BJP’s Parivartan Yatra rally here.
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Particularly stinging in his criticism of Congress which has accused him of causing harassment to the common people, the PM recalled that Congress governments had imposed Emergency, stifling rights of the people and the media, and had banned ‘chavanni’ (25 paise coins).
“Under which law did they ban ‘chavanni’, it is another thing that they could not move beyond ‘chavanni’ ... you took the step as per your stature and we did what matched ours,” he said taking a swipe at the opposition party.
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Invoking Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister said he purposely chose his birth anniversary for the visit here to launch projects.
“You (Nehru) are no more, leaders from your party and your family are levelling false allegations, still on your birthday I am starting work to complete your unfulfilled desire for the development of people,” Modi said.
“Nobody would have offered a tribute which an MP from Uttar Pradesh is giving,” Modi, who represents Varanasi Lok Sabha seat, said, adding those who did not work towards fulfilling Pandit Nehru’s dream should be exposed.
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Accusing opposition leaders of misleading people, he asked whether corruption and dishonesty should be allowed in the country.
“Don’t mislead people...I want to ask Congressmen who claim people are facing problems how you turned the entire country into a jail for 19 months by imposing emergency,” he said, adding it was done only to save the seat of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi after the Allahabad High Court verdict against her, and not out of any concern for the poor.
He said there was no dearth of money for development, but the fact was that money was stashed away somewhere else and not where it should have been.
The Prime Minister said he knew he was up against the powerful but vowed to continue his “fight for the poor, farmers and villagers”.
“I know what all I will have to bear as those who have their coffers full are very strong people...they have the strength to buy governments. They have the power to topple and can spoil the future (of anyone) but should I be afraid of such people?
“Should I shun the path of honesty and run away...it is with your blessings that I have taken up such a big fight,” he said.
Defending the decision on demonetisation, Modi said the menace of fake currency could not have been checked if such a big offensive was not initiated.
“Fake notes were being printed across the border and pumped into the country...should this move of the enemy not be checked for waging a war against terrorism, naxalism and extremism...ever since the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were scrapped, they are most worried as they are not able to make payments,” Modi said.
He alleged that rumours were being spread and housewives instigated that their hard earned money for daughter’s marriage was being taken away.
Modi assured them that “their Rs 2.5 lakh would not be touched. Moreover, they would get interest on it”.
Without naming BSP chief Mayawati, who has made strident criticism of the prime minister over ban on high denomination currency notes, Modi said that some political parties are very worried as they do not know what to do.
“They used to get huge garlands of notes under which their face got hidden,” he said, ostensibly referring to the garland of currency notes presented to Mayawati during a BSP rally in Lucknow when she was the chief minister.
“Whenever we do something new it gives some pain but the intention should be good...whatever I am doing is for the betterment of poor, farmers, villagers,” he stressed.
“Some people wear a smile on the face, they even say Modi ji you have done a good job. But they instigate their party workers to oppose my decision,” he said, without taking any names.
Scoffing at opposition for blaming him for the problems being faced by the poor, the Prime Minister said he was better aware of the hardships being faced by commoners.
“You (Congress) issue statements. I feel the pulse of the masses,” he said.
Referring to people dumping wads of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in rivers, the Prime Minister said, “You cannot wash your sins off just by putting currency notes in the river Ganges.”
Reaching out to the locals, Modi, who laid the foundation for several rail projects, began his address in Bhojpuri by saluting Ghazipur for giving birth to Param Vir Chakra awardee Abdul Hamid, who “taught Pakistan a lesson in the 1965 war”.
Thanking the voters of Uttar Pradesh for providing the support and trusting the BJP in the last Lok Sabha elections, Modi said, “The state played a key role in giving us absolute majority.”
Uttar Pradesh will go to polls early next year. Referring to intelligence inputs on terror agencies using counterfeit notes to fund their activities on Indian soil, Modi said the enemy is flooding the nation with these fake notes “and we need to put an end to this”.
Like his Sunday’s speech in Goa, Modi said he is not scared of those against him and will never stray from the path of “truth and integrity”.