Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday attacked the opposition saying that unlike in the past when it stalled Parliament against scams, the rivals were now disrupting proceedings over the government’s steps to check black money.
Addressing the BJP Parliamentary Party on the last day of a washed-out winter session, he also accused the opposition of backing the “dishonest and corrupt” and paralysing Parliament over demonetisation, singling out Congress for “putting its interest” above that of the country.
He targeted the Left, accusing it of compromising with its ideology as he recalled comments of late Communist leaders Jyotirmoy Basu and Harkishan Singh Surjeet in support of demonetisation to hit out at them for siding with Congress.
With the Winter Session turning out be a virtual washout following political impasse over demonetisation, Modi projected criticism of the decision by rival parties as an evidence of their support for the “dishonest and corrupt”.
He also attacked former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had called demonetisation “organised plunder and legalised loot”.
Modi quoted his comments made in 1991 to say that he once used “language of threat” against tax evaders but his voice has completely changed now.
“Why? Because he is worried about his party not country,” Modi said of Singh.
The Prime Minister also cited the Supreme Court’s observations against the UPA government over lack of action against black money to make his point.
“In our country, ruckus in Parliament or not letting it function had happened earlier too. It was a little longer this time. But there is an essential difference. Earlier, ruckus and disruptions happened because of massive scams and graft and the opposition would unite and fight on the principle of honesty.
“This is the first time when treasury benches have taken a step against corruption and many in the Opposition have come together to support the dishonest,” he said.
Political values have fallen so much that opposition parties are brazenly speaking in favour of the dishonest, something that used to be done earlier secretively, he said.
Amid reports that continuing hardships faced by the masses in withdrawing money from banks and ATMs have dented the early public support for the measure, Modi told party leaders that they have to fight to rid the country of corruption and black money with confidence.
He asked them to popularise the government’s thrust on digital transactions as a “way of life”, saying those who are aware of the exercise should be made to use it.
Noting that the Wanchoo Committee in 1971 had recommended demonetisation, he cited a book to say that when the then Finance Minister Y B Chavan went to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and supported the exercise, she asked, “Only one question. Are no elections to be fought by the Congress party?”
“Tell me,” Modi wondered, “if the party is bigger or the country,” as he accused Congress of putting its interests before the country’s. BJP puts the country’s interests before the party’s, 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.
Though Congress followed by the Left were at the receiving end of his scathing attack, the Prime Minister made few references to regional parties like SP, BSP and TMC which have been targeting him over the decision.