On Monday, at a Parivartan Rally in Kanpur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to lay to rest certain fears about demonetisation, considering his self-declared 31 December deadline (before he can be judged) and the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections are right around the corner.
Taking to the stage shortly after 1.30 pm, Modi said, "Over the past few days, wherever I've had the privilege of travelling in Uttar Pradesh, I see not a wave of change, but a cyclone of change. It feels as though in the upcoming elections, every citizen of UP wants to join the movement to usher in change."
After briefly discussing the inauguration of several Skill India schemes in UP and across the country, the prime minister trained his focus on the role of the Opposition in disrupting proceedings during the recently concluded Winter Session of Parliament. He said, "I'm upset that on one side, we are trying to stop corruption and black money, but the (Opposition) only want to stop Parliament. For an entire month, they did not allow Parliament to function. Despite President Pranab Mukherjee's pleas, they continued to disrupt proceedings." He explained that the Opposition parties were scared to discuss the topics that the government wished to discuss, and that is why felt they need to stop the functioning of both Houses.
Modi, at an all-party meeting convened before the Winter Session of Parliament, had suggested a debate on simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies and donations to political parties. But Parliament was not allowed to function for a month as the opposition parties were not interested in a discussion on the two issue, the Prime Minister said.
Interestingly, and probably a counter to the argument that the BJP was equally disruptive while in the Opposition, he mentioned that Parliament used to be disrupted earlier too. "But at that time the disruptions took place because the Opposition (referring to the BJP and its allies) came together to take on corruption and bring the corrupt to justice," he reasoned.
"Our agenda is to fight for a country free of corruption and black money. But their agenda is to close (disrupt) Parliament...I am puzzled," Modi said. Singling out Congress, he said its leaders have often claimed that lat Rajiv Gandhi brought computer and mobile phone to the common man in India. But now when I say mobile phone can be used as a bank, they say the poor do not have cell phone...they said people do not have bank accounts. Now they claim poor went to the bank, but there was no money...they are spreading lies."
Further, he went on to discuss the idea of having one unified election, since the existing situation — elections at different times of the year across states, apart from the General Election — sees a lot of scope for black money to exchange hands. "I'd wanted to discuss this in Parliament, but proceedings were disrupted because the Opposition is scared of this. I appeal to the Election Commission once more to put pressure on political parties to work towards the idea of single elections as part of this war against corruption."
The prime minister also took further his comparison of Rs 100 notes with the poor of this country. "When we introduced demonetisation on 8 November, you know the kind of people who began to sweat — those who stole from the poor. Now they're queuing up outside the homes of the poor to stash away their ill-gotten wealth," said Modi, "When the Rs 1,000 note was in play, no one even looked at the Rs 100 note. Now that the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes are gone, everyone's looking for the Rs 100 note. Similarly people are now seeking the once-neglected poor."
While on the topic of demonetisation, he extolled the virtues of his 'imaandari ki sarkar (government of honour)' and how India has never before seen the powerful and wealthy being taken to task this way. And this, he added will continue, because "the country wants to win the war of honour and honourability".
Elsewhere over the course of his speech, the prime minister hailed India's youth, pointing to the fact that 65 percent of the country's population is younger than 35 years of age. "A country with young and energetic citizens can show the world its strength, but this is only when it has an opportunity to work and when it sees progress in the country. Today's government (the BJP at the Centre) is one for the poor. Since the first day, every project we've introduced has been aimed at the poor, underprivileged, deprived, and weaker sections of society." He also spoke of all the schemes introduced by the BJP and how they have benefitted the citizens of the country, particularly the poor.
It will be interesting to see how Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi counters this speech during his own rally in Jaunpur later on Monday.
Updated Date: Dec 19, 2016 16:00:32 IST