New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday strongly defended demonetisation, saying this should have been done in 1971 itself and blamed then PM Indira Gandhi for not acting on the suggestion to demonetise currency notes to curb black money.
Targeting the opposition parties for their anti-demonetisation stance, Modi charged the Congress with putting party interest above the country and accused the Left parties of compromising their ideology.
“We needed to do it in 1971. We have caused huge losses by not doing this since 1971,” Modi said while addressing the BJP MPs in Parliament annexe, lashing out at the Congress for not taking effective measures to curb black money in the country.
The Prime Minister referred to former bureaucrat Madhav Godbole’s book, in which he has recorded how then Home Minister Y.B. Chavan had recommended demonetisation to curb ill-gotten and hidden wealth.
“Godbole says in the book that Gandhi replied saying, ‘Are no more elections to be fought by the Congress?’ Chavan got the message and the recommendation was dropped,” Modi said.
“This was in 1971 when everybody recommended this. Had it (demonetisation) been done in 1971, the nation wouldn’t have been in this situation today.”
Modi spoke to the BJP MPs on the last day of the winter session that was washed away by bedlam over the spiking of high-value currency notes, which has caused an unprecedented cash shortage in the country.
Hitting out at the Left parties, which joined the Congress in opposing the government’s November 8 decision to scrap 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, Modi recalled remarks by Communist veterans Jyotirmoy Basu and Harkishan Singh Surjeet supporting the demonetisation recommendation in 1971.
Modi quoted Communist Party of India-Marxist MP Basu’s speech in Parliament where he had flayed Indira Gandhi for rejecting demonetisation recommended by the Wanchoo Committee.
“Indira Gandhi survives on black money, her politics survives on black money, therefore the report was not only not implemented but was suppressed for a year-and-half.
“The government (of the Congress) is of the black money, by the black money and for the black money,” Modi said quoting Basu’s 1971 remarks in Parliament.
He also recalled Surjeet’s 1972 speech in the Rajya Sabha where he had attacked the then Congress government for not taking any steps including demonetisation to curb black money.
“The CPI-M, which is now opposing demonetisation, then had even fought for demonetisation of Rs 100 note,” said Modi, adding: “The Communists have compromised their ideology by aligning with the Congress.”
Continuing the attack, Modi accused the Congress of putting party interest above the country.
Quoting former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s remarks in 1991, Modi said: “Then they used the language of threat against tax evaders. But now that language has changed because for them, concerns of the party are above the country.”
“Disruptions in Parliament have happened earlier also, but this time it is different. Unlike earlier, when opposition unitedly fought against scams and corruption, most of the opposition parties are coming together to stand beside the corrupt,” said Modi.
The Prime Minister, however, thanked Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for supporting demonetisation despite their ideological differences with the BJP.
During his address, Modi also asked party MPs to promote and publicise the government’s newly launched schemes to promote digital payments.