A few “political worshippers of black money” are opposing the government’s fight against corruption, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday, in an apparent attack on parties that have criticised the Centre’s move to recall high-value banknotes.
Delivering the keynote address at the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Bengaluru exactly two months after demonetisation, Modi said his government had launched a big campaign against black money and corruption, only to be opposed by some “rajnithik pujaris (political worshippers) of black money” who dubbed the initiative as anti-people.
The Prime Minister, who was ushered in with a hearty applause, asked the overseas Indian community to support his government’s move against black money. “Friends, you know we have undertaken a big responsibility in fighting black money and corruption... Black money and corruption have gradually made our polity, economy, society and the country hollow,” he said, adding that the demonetisation exercise was necessary to set things right again.
A day ago, the Prime Minister had asked BJP leaders to remain unfazed in the face of allegations that demonetisation was affecting the people, and rebut the opposition’s charges of “personal corruption” against him.
On November 8, Modi had scrapped Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes in a surprise move – causing a cash crunch that resulted in long queues in front of banks and ATMs across the country. Though most political parties cautiously supported the move in the beginning, they reconsidered their position after the move weakened the economy and hit people in the country’s rural sector. The eventual upsurge in opposition also resulted in a near-washout of Parliament’s winter session.
The upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur are expected to gauge the public’s reaction to demonetisation. While the BJP says the country’s poor supports the move, the opposition believes the hardships they faced after the scrapping of old currency will spur them to vote against the ruling party.
The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas – held to mark the contribution of overseas Indians to the development of the nation – concludes on Monday, with President Pranab Mukherjee delivering the valedictory address.
The three-day event, which has Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa as the chief guest, was also attended by Union ministers Ananth Kumar and Gen VK Singh, and Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah.