Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an interview to India Today took on all critics of his demonetisation drive and put them down point by point. From black money to understanding the inconvenience people re facing, PM gave his opinion on everything and sent a warning that he will not stop his initiatives to ensure long-term welfare of the people of India no matter how stiff the challenges become in the face of opposition attacks. PM said he believed he had the approval of the masses in the policies he was pursuing to cleanse the Indian economy of its tainted links. PM Modi issued a “dire warning” to black marketers, “if the enemy runs, we will chase them. If they change their tactics, we will change ours. When the corrupt find new methods of cheating, we will identify new methods to clamp down on the same.” Here are the top takeaways from the PM Modi interview:
1. Taking his loudest critic Congress head-on, PM said its leadership was “desperate” in the face of his demonetisation drive. PM said, “I pity a few of our opponents, especially the Congress leadeship, for the desperation they have been exhibiting …Congress leaders are entirely pre-occupied with only one thing – elections.” PM went to extent of saying that this was the first time the Opposition acted together to “openly” protect the dishonest by disrupting the Parliament. PM added, “I was keen to speak in both Houses. Yet, there was a concerted attempt by the Congress to derail the functioning of the Houses rather than have a proper debate.”
2. PM also rounded on Manmohan Singh’s stinging barb that the demonetisation exercise was “monumental mismanagement” and “organised loot” to sarcastically say that the former PM may have well been referring to the “unending string of scams” like 2G, CWG and coal block allocation “under his leadership”. It is interesting that the words ‘monumental mismanagement’ come from a leader who has been at the helm of India economic journey for around 45 years.”
3. PM Modi said that his note ban drive will ensure that the taxman does not harass the honest people and that only those with black wealth have a reason to worry. PM said wrongdoers have “only a few days to hide”. PM added, “Earlier the Income Tax department used to shoot in the dark. Now people have voluntarily come forward and deposited money. Now the Income Tax department has specific information” .
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4. Saying that he does not look for personal or party gain in taking his decisions as PM, Modi said “There is nothing political in the demonetisation decision…. It was a tough decision taken to clean up our economy and our society. If I were guided by short term electoral politics, I would have never done so.” PM slammed criticism that the demonetisation order was political and said it was taken not for “short-term windfall gains” but to effect long-term structural reforms in the Indian economy. Modi said the taxes collected from the dishonest will be used for welfare schemes.
5. On whether demonetisation will end corruption, the Prime Minister said, “Demonetisation… is an unprecedented step to confiscate the loot of the corrupt.” He added that, “Decisive ways were required for that. There is a need for reforms in the political system. Black money is now traced. It will not remain anonymous anymore.”
6. On why demonetisation norms were being changed so often, the PM said, “One must be able to distinguish between ‘niti’ (policy) and ‘ran-niti’ (strategy) and not put them in the same basket. The decision of demonetisation, which reflects our ‘niti’, is unequivocally clear, unwavering and categorical. Our ‘ran-niti’, however, needed to be different, aptly summarised by the age-old saying of ‘Tu Daal Daal, Main Paat Paat’ (keeping pace with the adversary). We must take two steps ahead of the enemy.”
7. He added, that the government changed tack because “we respond promptly and take necessary steps. Far from indicating poor implementation, this speaks of our agility in responding quickly and keeping up with the evolving situation. I know many will prefer if we issue one guideline and then allow them to walk roughshod over it. Let me assure them that no such thing will happen.”