PM retorts to Congress attack on democracy, justifies note ban
Launching an all-out attack on the Opposition, especially the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the people of India were responsible for keeping democracy alive, and also justified the demonetisation move as made at the right time.
In his reply to a debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President's Address, Modi also made a snide comment at Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi over his claim he would make "earthquake" like revelations about the Prime Minister's personal involvement in corruption.
The Motion of Thanks was passed by Lok Sabha on Tuesday by a voice-vote, with all amendments being rejected.
Speaking on demonetisation for the first time in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said it was a move that was made at the right time, and called it the "clean India" move for the Indian economy.
"When can you have an operation? When the body is healthy. For demonetisation, good economy was needed and this was a proper time. Our economy was doing well and our (demonetisation) decision was taken at the right time," Modi said.
"The move was calculative. The decision was taken after Diwali when trade (across the country) was high," he said, adding the move was like the Swachh Bharat mission to clean the economy of ill-gotten wealth accumulated by evading tax.
He said he was aware of political risks but "I am not concerned about the elections".
He also said the government wanted a discussion, but the opposition was more interested in giving "television bytes".
The Prime Minister started his reply to the debate by mentioning the earthquake that hit Delhi on Monday night, and took an indirect dig at Rahul Gandhi who had claimed he will make revelations about the Prime Minister's personal involvement in corruption, that will cause an earthquake.
"Finally the earthquake came... I was threatened about it long back," the Prime Minister said, triggering an uproar in the opposition benches.
The Prime Minister also had a retort for Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who on Monday has said Modi could become Prime Minister only because the Congress protected democracy fr 70 years.
"Congress said democracy was protected by them... But every one knows, the democracy has been sacrificed for one family," he said.
He referred to the Emergency that was implemented by the Indira Gandhi government in 1975, in response to which opposition members quipped that there was an "undeclared emergency" in the current times.
"They (Congress) did not know the power of the people. It was because of the people that democracy was reinstated. It is because of the people that a poor mother's son could become the Prime Minister of India," Modi said.
He also retorted to Kharge's comments in the Lok Sabha on Monday where he said Congress members had laid down their lives for the country and no one from the BJP had done so. Kharge's comment was expunged by the chair for unparliamentary language.
"Knowing the history is important... Whether we were there or our dogs were there... other people's dogs may have been there, we did not grow in the culture of dogs..." the Prime Minister said responding to Kharge's comments.
He mentioned the 1857 armed revolt, and said people were there even when Congress was not born.
"The lotus was there at that time, the lotus is still here," Modi said.
Through the debate, opposition members kept making remarks about the Prime Minister being a "brand ambassador" for Paytm and Jio mobile connection, to which Modi eventually replied and said: "Those who have its agency will speak about it", signalling that the opposition was mentioning it more than him.
He slammed the Congress for giving credit to "one family" for everything, including Independence, and said: "Did you even say there was one Savarkar who went to Kala Pani for Independence, did you ever talk about Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad?"
Justifying the preponment of the budget, Modi said India is an agricultural nation, and continuing the British legacy of budget date leads to non-availability of funds during the sowing season once the Monsoon has started.
"At one point of time, budget used to be presented at 5 p.m., because it was as per British time. We have a habit of carrying British legacies," he said.
"We go ahead with the budget in May, by June rainfall starts. For the first three months, budget money could not be utilised and then whatever time is left, money was disbursed in a hurry," the Prime Minister said implying that preponing the budget will help in disbursing money at the right time.