Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation evoked a mixed reaction from its political class on Saturday, with BJP members complimenting their leader and critics accusing him of diverting the public’s attention from the issue of demonetisation by offering poll sops.
In what seemed like a budget speech, Modi tried to touch upon every section of the society crucial to him and his party ahead of the assembly elections in five states. The Prime Minister, however, gave the middle class a miss despite expectations that he would extend some sort of relief to taxpayers.
The BJP said they were satisfied with Modi’s speech. “The Prime Minister has once again made it clear that the NDA govt is dedicated to the welfare of the weaker sections of society,” home minister Rajnath Singh tweeted immediately after the address.
“The decisions are pro-people and pro-development. PM is taking India forward with his vision & leadership,” he added.
However, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee dubbed Modi’s address as the “end of demonetisation” and “start of deModitisation”.
One of the biggest critics of the government’s note ban decision, Banerjee accused the PM of deviating from the actual agenda of black money and taking over the finance minister’s role to make a pre-budget speech. “Where are the figures of #DeMonetisation? How much of black money has been recovered? What did the nation gain after 50 days of excruciating pain?” she asked, adding that “empty vessels make the most noise”.
The Congress also expressed disappointment over the speech. “Mr PM, the people wanted to know how many lakhs of crores of black money you wiped out in the last 50 days. Why didn’t you speak about it?” a message from the party’s official Twitter handle read.
Randeep Surjewala, chief spokesperson of the Congress, said Modi’s speech left many questions unanswered. “His decision paralysed the economy; country can’t run this way… We once again urge the PM to withdraw the restrictions imposed on withdrawals,” he added.
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal dubbed Modi’s speech as “boring”. “The entire country was disappointed after listening to Modi’s boring speech. They were expecting him to specify when the restriction on withdrawing money will be lifted,” he said.
However, BJP secretary Sidharth Nath Singh defended Modi by saying that the objective of the speech was never to disclose black money figures. “The PM wanted to thank 125 crore Indians,” he added.
Party chief Amit Shah also voiced his enthusiasm on Twitter, noting how Modi’s announcements would go a long way in providing housing to the “poor, neo-middle class & middle class”.