Demonetisation has Equalised the Rich and the Poor, Claims Modi

Demonetisation has Equalised the Rich and the Poor, Claims Modi

Questions the moral authority of his political opponents, especially Congress, in criticising his step as anti-poor and anti-common man.

As he stressed that the poor strongly backed his decision to demonetise high denomination currency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday questioned the moral authority of his political opponents, especially the Congress, in criticising his step as anti-poor and anti-common man.

He invoked the Emergency days under then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, accusing the Congress of enforcing it to only “save Ms. Gandhi’s seat.” In contrast, Mr. Modi asserted, his decision to scrap notes of high denomination was taken in the “interest and happiness of the poor,” the good of the country and the farmer.

”The Congress is worried about people. They enforced Emergency and turned this nation into a jail for 19 months. They restrained newspapers and arrested people who spoke up. Did you do this to fight corruption and the welfare of people? You did it only to save the throne of your PM, Indira Gandhi,” Mr. Modi said.

Addressing a parivartan rally in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur a day after his speech in Goa, Mr. Modi reiterated his appeal to people to lend him time, 50 days, and patience to complete the “big task,” a “mahayagna of honesty,” of unearthing black money. A door-to-door operation against black money would have taken years, he observed and stressed that he was left with only “one solution”— scrapping notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000.

As he tried to justify his decision as ‘pro-poor,’ he said the demonetisation had equalised the rich and the poor. His government stood “for the poor, the villages and the farmers.” “India has no shortage of wealth but where is this wealth stored that is a problem. There is little where it is supposed to be, and it is horded at places where it should not be.”

Mr. Modi, addressing his first rally in the poll-bound State after the mega overhaul, acknowledged that the common citizen faced hardship due to it. He said he could “experience the suffering” of the “average honest citizen” and was staying up all night, using his “mind and power” to reduce the hardship and would continue to do so.

‘Bear the distress for larger good’

Urging people to bear the distress for a few days, he equated the situation as similar to a family’s tolerance of the lingering odour of wall paint for the larger good of decorating the house for a marriage. There is some discomfort in everything you do, only the “intention behind it must be well-meaning,” he said to assuage the anxiety of common people whose lives have been sent for a toss due to the crisis in supply of legal tender. Mr. Modi then referred to his own background as a tea-seller to further push the ‘pro-poor card.’ “My decision is a little kadak (strong) like my chai. When I was a child, the poor would especially ask me to make kadak chai (strong tea). The poor is fond of kadak chai. I have a habit since childhood of making kadak chai. The kadak tea suits the poor but warps the expression of the rich,” the Prime Minister said to loud cheers.

Even as observers debate the impact of the decision on Uttar Pradesh polls, a few months away, Mr. Modi credited the role of the State in his fight against corruption by helping his party win a full majority at the Centre in 2014. “It is the power of your vote that the poor is sleeping peacefully and the rich is running around the bazaar to buy sleeping pills.”

While targeting his opponents for criticising the demonetisation, Mr. Modi wondered why they were so worried by it. Meanwhile, on the ground, the BJP has been propagating that the BSP and the SP will be worst hit by a fund crunch due to the scrapping of notes.

Mr. Modi took a veiled dig at BSP chief Mayawati, who has condemned the demonetisation as an “undeclared financial emergency,” raking up the “garland of notes” she received in the past on her birthday.

Modi’s poser to Congress

In a departure from his teary-eyed address in Goa, an aggressive PM mocked the Congress for asking under which law he had scrapped the notes, while reminding them of their decision to do away with the 25 paise.

“What law did you apply then? Who did you ask? It’s another matter you cannot think beyond the 25 paise. You did something of your stature, we did something of ours,” Mr. Modi said.

As he raised the pitch, the PM dared “all leaders misleading the people in the name of honesty” to show guts and publicly declare “if notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000, corruption, black money and dishonesty should continue?”

Further reaching out the sensibility of the poor, Mr. Modi claimed he apprehended a threat to himself, as he his act had hurt the interests of the powerful. “I know what I will have to face because those whose coffers are full are powerful. They can buy governments and even bring them down. They can destroy fates of the best of us. But tell me, shall I be frightened of such people, and leave the path of honesty?”

Amid reports of fake currency notes found floating in the Ganga at various locations in the State, Mr. Modi attacked those hoarding money, saying, “You sinners! Your sins will not be washed away by immersing notes in the Ganga.”

While accusing Pakistan of supplying fake currency to support Naxalism and terrorism in India, he asked, “Should we allow the enemies to make their move? I ask the leaders, in the fight against terrorism and Naxalism, should we not terminate fake currency?”

Mr. Modi recalled the promise he made to the people during the Lok Sabha elections that he would fight corruption, saying his step was only an attempt to fulfill it. “Should I not do what you asked me to do, end corruption? Am I not doing your work if I scrap notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000? When the villagers are ready to face such hardships, it shows there is no place for the dishonest in India.”

Mr. Modi also accused his opponents of instigating household women through “rumours that he had taken away all their savings for their daughter’s marriages.” He assured them they would not be bothered by the IT department. “My mothers and sisters, till your brother [Modi], is alive, you must be assured that no government officer will be put an eye on your hard-saved money.”

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