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As it happened: Modi doles out schemes for poor, farmers; Opposition not happy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to address the nation at 7:30pm on New Year’s eve, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Twitter handle posted on Saturday. Sources said Modi will talk about the people’s support for his ambitious scheme that scrapped high-value banknotes to weed out black money from the economy.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2016 22:19 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
People watch the live telecast of PM Narendra Modi's New Year eve speech in Mumbai on December 31, 2016.
People watch the live telecast of PM Narendra Modi's New Year eve speech in Mumbai on December 31, 2016.(PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Saturday two new housing schemes benefiting the economically backward sections as well as financial aid for pregnant women.

In a televised address, he added that law will deal with the dishonest, congratulating people for backing the government’s demonetisation exercise.

Wishing the nation a happy new year, Modi assured that his government’s efforts in 2017 would be to bring the banking system to normal at the earliest.

On November 8, PM Modi took the nation by surprise, recalling Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bills --- a move that met with resistance from the Opposition.

The shock announcement sparked chaos and confusion across the country, with millions of consumers queued outside banks and ATMs to change a limited number of old notes for new ones or withdraw cash. The Reserve Bank of India changed rules frequently, inviting criticism.

Modi, in his address, reiterated that people have supported the government in its “purification” campaign.

Follow the live updates here:

* PM Modi sends his New Year greetings to the nation.

* Modi says demonetisation is a purification campaign.

* After Diwali, people of the country made sacrifices to defeat the vices (of corruption and black money), says Modi.

* We don’t want to lag behind in the war against black money, corruption, Modi says.

* People of the country have proved that goodness prevails, the PM says.

* People of India have proved that honesty and truth matter a lot to them, Modi says.

* People have suffered (because of demonetisation) for the foundation of a bright future, the PM says.

* Modi says he got tens of thousands of letters on demonetisation --- many highlighting the hardships post note ban.

* Our effort in the new year will be to ensure normality in the banking system at the earliest, the PM says.

* Modi bats for pro-active endeavours in rural areas to provide relief to villagers, farmers.

* What Indians have done, for that there is no example in the world, Modi says.

* You will be shocked to know that only 24 lakh people in the country admit that they earn more than Rs 10 lakh annually, Modi says.

* But the question now is: what happens to the dishonest? Modi says, adding that law will take its own course.

* This government is a friend of the honest and in favour of putting the dishonest in the path of truth, Modi says.

* The PM says government officials should help the honest and crack down on the dishonest, Modi says.

* Modi says the banking sector worked hard in the period after note ban.

* However, people who have indulged in fraudulent practices, including government officials, will not be spared, says Modi.

* Banks should focus on serving the poor, lower middle-class, says Modi.

* The more you empower the oppressed and the weaker sections, the stronger will be the nation, says the PM.

*  Modi announces two housing schemes for the economically weaker sections, says Modi.

* In 2017, people of middle and lower middle-classes will get discount of 4% for a home loan of up to Rs 9 lakh, and of 3% for a loan of up to Rs 12 lakh.

* This year, 6% more rabi crops have been sown, 9% more fertilisers has been consumed.

* In the next three months, 3 crore Kisan cards will be converted into RuPay cards, says PM Modi.

* Credit guarantee for small businesses is being raised to Rs 2 crore from Rs 1 crore, says Modi.

* Loans of farmers, who had borrowed money from district cooperative central banks and primary societies for sowing kharif and rabi crops, will be guaranteed by the government and will be credited to their accounts

*  Pregnant women will get financial assistance of Rs 6,000 in over 650 districts, says Modi. The money will be credited into their accounts.

* Banks have been asked to raise cash credit limit to small business to 25% from 20%.


* PM Modi appeals to all political parties to shed ‘Holier than thou’ attitude and unite in the fight against corruption.

* In his push for a less-cash economy, Modi asks the youth, businessmen and farmers to use the BHIM app for transactions.

* Patience, discipline, resolve displayed by 125 crore Indians will play a critical role in shaping future of the nation for years to come, says PM Modi.

* Modi says as we welcome a new year, let’s come together to build a bright future of the country.

* Soon after the PM’s announcement, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweets:

* Opposition parties do not appear satisfied with the PM’s announcements.

* Congress’s RS Surjewala says ‘no deadline, only headline’ has become the PM’s character, ANI reports.

* Disappointed with the PM’s speech, he says, adding that many questions were left unanswered.

* West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee says Modi’s address to the nation became a budget address.

* However, Union home minister Rajnath Singh says the PM has “once again made it clear that the NDA govt is dedicated to the welfare of poor and weaker sections of the society”.

Opposition’s wish list

Ahead of Modi’s address, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi made public his demands, asking Modi to lift restrictions on cash withdrawals.

The RBI on Friday raised the daily ATM cash withdrawal limit from Rs 2,500 to Rs 4,500 a day for an individual from January 1. However, there has been no change in the weekly withdrawal limit, which stands at Rs 24,000, including from ATM, for individuals (and Rs 50,000 in case of small traders).

Read: From January 1, you can withdraw Rs 4,500 a day from ATMs: RBI

Gandhi also asked the PM to deposit Rs 25,000 in the account of one woman each in families below the poverty line. He batted for abolishing charges on digital transactions and called for Income and Sales taxes rebate of 50% to small-scale shopkeepers and businesses.

For its part, the CPI urged Modi to sanction ex-gratia relief to the families of those who had collapsed and died while waiting in queues before the banks and ATMs in different parts of the country after demonetisation. The Opposition alleges more than 100 people died in the wake of Modi’s shock announcement in November.

Read: Rahul, Chidambaram target Modi over cash withdrawal limit after 50-day deadline

Political tug-of-war

An aggressive Opposition stalled proceedings in the recently concluded winter session over the government’s decision. Union ministers held several press briefings to counter the criticism.

And in the new year, the political tussle over demonetisation is set to enter a new phase. The BJP has planned a long series of rallies and campaign programmes to tell people the benefits of a cashless economy.

The Opposition, eyeing a united bloc and a possible alliance against the BJP, may hold joint rallies across states.

While many Opposition parties have been critical of the note ban, they have so far restricted themselves to individual protest programmes.

But after the meeting and press conference of eight parties in New Delhi recently, plans are afoot to hold four major rallies in as many corners of the country.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Dec 31, 2016 18:12 IST

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