Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls it Imandari Ka Mahayagna (a rough translation: the true test of honesty). He is acutely aware that continuing hardships of common men and women across the country for seventh consecutive day due to cash crunch, could potentially derail his decision of abruptly scrapping Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, which was earlier touted as "bold".
Modi, therefore, had to set the tone and agenda for public discourse and broader public mood, so that people would not mind suffering for a few weeks for larger public good in months and years to come. In the last 36 hours, Modi has addressed four consecutive rallies — Goa, Karnataka, Pune and today the prime minister was in Uttar Pradesh's Ghazipur. And in all the four rallies, he sought public support and tried to convince people that honesty and transparency will pay and make that an article of faith just like the way people don't mind hardship, fasting and austere living during certain religious occasions because of the long-held social belief and faith that their present sacrifice would bring them better future.
It is clear from his speeches that the prime minister wants to discredit the Opposition — Congress, Left parties and Trinamool Congress — and their arguments against demonetisation even before they raise it in Parliament during the Winter Session.
Month-long Winter session of Parliament opens on 16 November. The Congress and Trinamool Congress have already given notices to challenge government on one pretext or the other. Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal and Mayawati have their made bitter opposition to demonetisation known. Mamata has taken the initiative to combine opposition against the Modi government on demonetisation issue and will march to President House on Tuesday to submit him a memorandum.
"I want to tell the leaders who misguide people in name of honesty that they should tell publicly tell whether they want continuance of Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes, black money and corruption. Stop misguiding people."
With Modi making a pro-poor and pro-honest narrative, the leaders opposing the demonetisation move don't have much credibility left, especially when it comes to honesty, integrity and public probity. Out of the major leaders protesting against the move — Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal have far less baggage as compared to the others. The two, so far, have managed to keep their names clean. Same cannot be said about their respective governments though. Mamata's name has been dragged to the mud after Saradha and Narada scams.
Modi, at Ghazipur rally, spoke of his humble background yet again: "Mera nirnay kadak hai... Garib ko kadak chai bhati hai aur amir ka mooh bigad jata hai. (My decision was strong... poor like strong tea, but when rich people drink it, the aftertaste in their mouth is not that great)."
Modi also used a social media coinage to blast Congress. "These Congress leaders and their top lawyers are claiming that the prime minister does not have the power and authority to demonetise currency. The Congress had discontinued chavanni (25 paise). But they could have gone beyond the chavanni by discontinuing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. We have done what was of our parity," he said. He also linked it with fake currency, terror and naxalite violence funding.
At other level he is discrediting those leaders who are perceived to be cash rich:. "Some parties are deeply worried, they are deeply anxious as to what to do now. Those big garlands of high denomination notes where the leaders neck wouldn't be visible." Incidentally, after Modi's rally, Mayawati held a press conference and in her prolonged opening statement she blasted Modi for this statement.
First Published On : Nov 14, 2016 20:56 IST