Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hit back at Opposition for its all-India bandh call over demonetisation, saying the country instead needed an end to evils like corruption and black money.
The PM was speaking at the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Parivartan Rally in Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
“On the one hand we are initiating steps to curb corruption but on the other hand a few people are talking about ‘Bharat Bandh’,” the PM said, to loud cheers from the crowd.
He described demonetisation as a cure to the 70-year-old disease of corruption.
Waving a full page newspaper advertisement put out by the government, he said all should go through it and put it up near shops as it teaches people how to carry out financial transactions with a mobile phone.
He also asserted that his government was fully committed to working for the welfare of the poor, farmers, women, Dalits and the backward classes.
During the speech in which he made a strong pro-farmer pitch, Modi said it seemed the UP government was not interested in implementing central schemes for farmers.
Alluding to the Samajwadi Party feud, he said if their infighting had stopped, the UP government should implement such schemes as the Centre was ready to spend on them.
“I want to tell the UP government that if they have time and are concerned about the farmers of the state, then they should implement the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana,” he said.
The Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme is meant to ensure farmers get adequate compensation against any losses due to crop damage.
Modi also said his government had decided to pass on payments against sugarcane dues directly to the accounts of the cane growers, and suggested that ethanol from sugarcane could reduce India’s fuel imports and ensure that farmers did not suffer a loss when sugar price fell.
Villages were never a priority earlier (for previous government), he said.
The PM, who began his speech in Bhojpuri, observed, “So many people have gathered today in large numbers in Kushinagar. This shows your faith in us.”
He added: “I will never betray the trust the people have in me.”
Describing himself as the country’s “pradhan sevak (prime servant)”, he said he had come to repay the debt of the people.
Asserting that his government was keen to give an impetus to infrastructure in UP, he said, “We want Poorvanchal to prosper, be it railways, fertiliser plants.”
Uttar Pradesh cannot progress unless the eastern part of the state is developed, he added.
Earlier, former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) heavyweight Swami Prasad Maurya and former UP Congress Committee chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi shared the stage in Kushinagar.
Maurya and Joshi had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi recently in the presence of party chief Amit Shah.
Joshi attacked her former party and said Modi would rule for several decades. She also backed the demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1,000 notes announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8.
Firebrand Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath, who arrived here to a warm welcome, also backed Modi’s demonetisation decision. A huge applause went up as UP BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya asked the crowd to raise hands to show support for the demonetisation move.
This was the PM’s third Parivartan rally in poll-bound UP. He addressed the first public meeting at Ghazipur on November 14 and the second in Agra on November 20.