Under continuous attack from opposition since the announcement of the decision to demonetise old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes on November 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi found some unlikely saviours in Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik. Their support to demonetisation initiative lent credibility to PM Modi’s declared objectives behind the move even as parties like Congress, TMC, AAP and BSP viewed it as one of the biggest scams.
There was a time when Indian politicians used to genuinely praise the goodness of leaders from opposition parties. Leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee won praise from all even when his party had only a few seats in Parliament.
In the hyper politics of the present, it rarely happens when one of the tallest leaders of a party is seen genuinely praising his or her opponents. But there is a saying that PM Modi never forgets, either his friends or enemies. So when he addressed members of BJP Parliamentary party on the last day of winter session of Parliament on December 16, PM Modi especially thanked Kumar and Patnaik and appealed to take all supporters of demonetisation along in the fight against corruption and black money.
“I am surprised. It would have been good if critics of this government had shown the capability to discuss on issues. We should also note that there are many people, who do not support the ideology of BJP or NDA. Even they have openly supported the government in the fight against black money and corruption,” the PM said.
“I thank Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. I thank Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. There are many people who have openly supported us and that is why I want to move ahead with everyone who has supported us in this fight,” he added.
Patnaik was one of the first leaders who welcomed demonetisation and called it a “bold step to curb black money’. Patnaik later also joined a committee of chief ministers for to guide the government’s cashless economy drive.
Kumar was the second big leader from the opposition parties who supported demonetisation publicly. On a number of occasions, the Bihar CM welcomed the decision but said it should also be followed by action against benaami property and prohibition.