Nation first for BJP: Modi

Congress leaders meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday. (UNI)
Congress leaders meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday. (UNI)

NEW DELHI, Dec 16: Accusing Congress of putting its interests above the country’s, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today tore into the Oppposition, saying unlike earlier when opposition parties stalled Parliament against scams, Congress- led parties are now doing so against Government’s steps to curb blackmoney and corruption.
He also targeted the Left, accusing them of compromising with their ideology as he recalled comments of late communist leaders Jyotirmay 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”.
In his address at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, 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 cotinuing 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.
Lamenting the lack of debate in Parliament, Modi said it would be good had the government’s critics shown strength to start a discussion on merit.
He also expressed gratitude to Odisha and Bihar chief ministers Navin Patnaik and Nitish Kumar for their “open support” to the demonetisation decision despite their ideological differences with BJP.
The decision to declare Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes as invalid is an important step in his government’s fight against black money but is not the final destination, he said.
If the middle class is to be rid of exploitation and the poor to be restored their rights, then “courageous decisions” will have to be taken to remove black money and corruption, he added.
His government, Modi asserted, will take action against benami transactions and then Congress will again shout that it is a “very hasty” decision.
He told party MPs that it is their primary responsibility to push digital transactions and suggested that demonetisation was a part of the gamut of decisions he has planned in this regard to curb black money.
“We do not think in parts. There is a full scale design. It is only that we show our cards gradually,” he said, reiterating that people’s woes will gradually begin to ease out after 50 days since demonetisation was announced.
Facing criticism that a slew of measures taken by his government will give unbridled power to bureaucracy, he said he would not allow ‘afsarshahi’ (rule of bureaucrats) and has asked authorities to do no “postmortem” of people’s transactions prior to November 8 when the note ban decision was taken as they shift to the digital mode.
Referring to reward schemes announced by the government as “Christmas gift” to customers and traders shifting to online platforms, he asked party leaders to promote them.
Quoting ‘Chanakya Niti’, he said light-heartedly that the money collected through unfair means goes waste in the 11th year, a reference to the UPA’s 10-year-rule before he took office.
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.
The Opposition in 1971-72 did not seek evidence of the army’s valour unlike that of today, he said.
Meanwhile, a Rahul Gandhi-led Congress delegation today met Modi to highlight the plight of farmers in the country and demanded a loan waiver for them.
During the meeting, which came in the backdrop of Gandhi’s fierce attack on the Prime Minister over demonetisation, top Congress leaders presented a memorandum to Modi on demands of farmers including loan waiver, reducing power bills to half and remunerative MSP for farm produce.
The delegation included Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, deputy leaders in both Houses Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and UP Congress chief Raj Babbar.
After the meeting, the Congress Vice President said that Modi heard them patiently but did not commit anything.
“We, Congress party delegation, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the plight of farmers of this country. Every single day, a farmer is committing suicide in Punjab. Farmers are committing suicide all over the country.
“The Government has removed the import duty on wheat. This is a devastating blow. So we went to the Prime Minister to request him on behalf of farmers of this country to waive their loans,” he told reporters.
He said the Prime Minister accepted that the situation of farmers is serious but did not say anything on loan waiver.
Sources said the Prime Minister gave the delegation a patient hearing and told Rahul Gandhi to “keep meeting him”.
Gandhi has been targeting the Prime Minister often, with his latest offensive being on demonetisation. He claimed on Wednesday that he had information about alleged “personal corruption” of the Prime Minister, but the BJP dismissed it as a “joke”.
Gandhi had raised the farmers issue during his recent Deoria to Delhi yatra in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh. The Congress has collected over 2 crore “Kisan maang patras” from across Uttar Pradesh and over 34 lakh from Punjab which also goes to polls early next year.
During Congress’ yatra in Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi said the farmers had put forward their three requests– loan waiver, reducing the power bills to half and getting  remunerative MSP for their produce.
“We told Prime Minister that the way government had waived Rs 1,40,000 crore, the same way farmers’ loan should be waived,” he said, adding the delegation also raised the issue of plight of farmers in Maharashtra and Karnataka. (PTI)


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