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Give me 50 days over scrapped notes, punish me if problems persist: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an impassioned plea to the nation on Sunday to give him 50 days to weed out ill-gotten wealth in the country.

black money crackdown Updated: Nov 13, 2016 20:48 IST
Jatin Gandhi
Jatin Gandhi
Hindustan Times
Narendra Modi,Rs 500 note,Rs 1000 note
Speaking at a Goa government function near Panaji, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his drive against corruption and black money, especially the de-monetisation, had put him in the cross-hairs of those who hold black money.(ANI Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi choked with emotion during an impassioned speech in Goa on Sunday as he appealed to people to give him 50 days to end their hardship after his government abolished high-value banknotes.

The BJP-led government pulled 500- and 1,000-rupee notes out of circulation from November 9 in a blitz against black money, counterfeits, corruption, and terrorist funding. But the switch hasn’t been smooth with banks and ATMs kiosks recording long queues of people waiting for hours for their turn to deposit defunct notes and get new ones, triggering public anger and opposition’s criticism.

Modi defended his government’s decision on Sunday, saying this is “an important step in my fight” against black money and corruption.

“I have asked the country for just 50 days. If after December 30, there are shortcomings in my work or there are mistakes or a bad intention found in my work, I will be prepared for the punishment that the country decides for me,” he said.

His appeal is viewed as a counteroffensive to blunt the opposition’s move to corner the government over the demonetization exercise.

“Did you think Modi will just come and go like other political parties … I am not here for the qursi (high office). I left my home, family, everything for the country,” he said.

“I know what kind of powers I have taken on. I am aware they will not let me live. Let them do what they want … Brothers and sisters give me 50 days.”

Read: Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes scrapped: 25 things RBI wants you to know

Modi’s political rivals called the government’s decision anti-poor and anti-farmer, saying the poorest section of society is facing the maximum hardship as they often keep hard cash at home for various expenses.

The Prime Minister tried to allay the farmers’ fears, promising at a function in Pune later in the day that they won’t be taxed when they deposit the defunct money in banks.

“This is a 70-year-old disease I have to eliminate in 17 months … I am looting what they had accumulated over 70 years,” Modi said, underscoring that the step was aimed at people hoarding illicit funds and not the common man.

He reminded the opposition Congress of the scams and scandals during its 10-year rule before he came to power.

“The kind of people who were involved in the coal scam and the 2G scam … now they stand in a queue to replace Rs 4,000,” he remarked in response to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s move on Friday to queue outside a bank in New Delhi to express solidarity with the people.

Read: 21 ways to check if your new Rs 2000, Rs 500 notes are real

“I know what kind of powers I have taken on. I know the kind of people who will be against me now. I am looting what they had accumulated over 70 years,” Modi said in his speech at the Shama Prasad Mukherjee indoor stadium in Bambolim village near Panaji.

People wait in long queues exchange their scrapped Rs 500 and 1000 banknotes in Pahar Ganj, New Delhi. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

The Prime Minister warned of “more projects” to fight corruption to rid the country of black money and corruption, listing steps his government has already taken in the past two years.

Read: Govt says deposits above Rs 2.5 lakh to be taxed: Your 4 questions answered

“If any money has been looted India and left Indian shores, it is our duty to find out about it,” he said.

The measures include a special investigation team to track illicit funds stashed abroad; signing bilateral agreements, including with the US, to track deposits of unaccounted Indian money; and opening 200 million Jandhan bank accounts for the poor.

“They thought attack Modi and he will get scared. Burn him alive, but Modi won’t back off,” he said, underscoring how the opposition targeted him in Parliament over his Jandhan scheme.

First Published: Nov 13, 2016 13:56 IST