New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi ON Wednesday targeted his predecessor Manmohan Singh for describing demonetisation as "loot" and "plunder" even as he asserted in the Rajya Sabha that the fight against black money is not a political one or against any party.
He tore into Congress and took on Singh who had described demonetisation as "organised loot" and "legalised plunder", saying "the art of bathing in a bathroom with a raincoat on" is known only to the former Prime Minister as there is "no blot on him" despite "all the scams".
This provoked an angry reaction from Congress members who staged a walkout in the midst of the reply by the Prime Minister to a debate on Motion of Thanks to the President's Address which was later adopted by the House after negation of all the 651 amendments. The Congress demanded an apology from the Prime Miniter. It also announced that they are
Members of Left, Trinamool Congress and JD(U) also staged a walkout after the reply, complaining that they were unhappy with Modi's statement and wanted to ask questions which was disallowed.
Modi, in his over one-hour speech, focussed his attack on Congress and other opposition parties for criticising the demonetisation decision and his push for cash-less economy.
He also slammed the Congress for finding faults with lack of proper infrastructure in the country, saying by doing so, they were only presenting their "report card" of 70-year rule.
Targeting Singh, he said, "in this country, perhaps there will be hardly anyone from the economic field who has had dominance on the country's financial affairs for half of the country's 70 years of independence. Out of 70 years, for 30-35 years, he has been directly associated with financial decisions.
"So many scams occurred... We politicians have a lot to learn from Dr Sahab. So much happened, there is not a single blot on him. Dr Sahab is the only person who knows the art of bathing in a bathroom with a raincoat on."
As Congress members created uproar and staged a walkout, an angry Modi said, "if you cross the limits of decorum, then you should have courage to listen to the response. We have the capacity to pay in the same coin. We do so within the limits of decorum and boundaries of the Constitution. They (Congress) don't want to accept the defeat in any form. How long will it continue??
He went on to add, "the person who held such a high post, used the words 'loot' and 'plunder' in the House. Then they (Congress) also should have thought 50 times (before using those words)."
Singh, while speaking in the Rajya Sabha during the last Winter Session, had castigated the Prime Minister over demonetisation, saying its implementation was a "monumental management failure" and a case of "organised loot and legalised plunder."
Responding to those comments today, Modi also took a swipe at Singh using the pretext of a book. "Manmohan Singh ji had delivered a speech here... Recently a book was released in which Manmohan Singh ji had written the Foreword. Initially, I thought he is a renowned economist and it (the book) will have his contribution. But then I realised that the book was written by somebody else and he had only written the Foreword. In his speech also, I felt the same," the Prime Minister said.
This triggered an uproar from the Congress members. To this, Modi took a dig, saying, "the word I did not even utter, that too they (Congress members) have understood."
As Congress members shouted slogans, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu took strong objection, questioning why the opposition members were so agitated when terms like "Hitler" were used against Modi in the same House.
"I request you to go through the records. Prime Minister was called Hitler. Prime Minister was called Mussolini," Naidu said.
The Prime Minister, whose speech was interrupted a number of times due to opposition uproar, also took on the Congress for quoting economists to denounce demonetisation. "You are quoting economists. If you quote 10, I can quote 20. Economists have never seen such a step anywhere in the world as this has happened for the first time... In fact, this can become a case study for them," he said.
Taking on Congress at another point, Modi quoted a book authored by former Home Secretary Madhav Godbole, which he said, contained criticism of Indira Gandhi for not undertaking demonetisation in 1971 when there was an opportunity. This evoked an uproar from Congress benches. At this, Modi took a dig at them, saying, "you should have shown behaviour when the book was published. What were you doing when it was published? Were you sleeping all this while? When such allegations were levelled, why were you silent? Had I been in your place I would have filed a case against Godbole."
The Prime Minister said while 125 crore countrymen are making efforts to come out of "inner malaise" of black money and corruption, Congress and other opposition parties are standing against it. Defending his demonetisation decision announced on November 8 last year, he said, "to fight against black money and corruption is not a political fight. It is not to harass any political. It is the responsibility of everyone to fight against it... We did what our wisdom suggested."
He said the maximum impact of black money is on the poor who have been exploited.
"There is need for more efforts (to fight black money). How long will we keep it brushing under the carpet? Even if this attempt is to be taken forward, it will be taken," he said.
"We need to fight as one. Honest person will not get strengthened, till the dishonest are not dealt with strongly.... The ultimate benefit of these steps is going to be to the poor," he said.
Modi said he did not mean to say that attempts would not have been made earlier.
On contention by opposition members that people were facing hardships because of demonetistion, the Prime Minister said there will be "problems while finding a way out of vices".
"There is a horizontal divide in the country...The public sentiment is on one side, while the sentiments of leaders is on the other side. They are cut-off from the public sentiment," he said, attacking the opposition. "Usually government and public are face-to-face on issues but this is such a decision where government and people are together. Some people are on the other side...You may have faced problems," Modi said.
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Updated Date: Feb 08, 2017 20:47:13 IST