Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday accused the Congress leadership of “desperation” in the face of his “tough” demonetisation decision and said it was the first time that a concerted effort was made by the Opposition to “openly” protect the dishonest through disruptions in Parliament.
He also slammed Manmohan Singh, who had described demonetisation as a “monumental mismanagement” and an “organised loot”, and sarcastically said that his predecessor might have been referring to the “unending string of scams” like 2G, CWG and coal block allocation “under his leadership”.
Modi said while the honest will not be harassed, those with black wealth have “only a few days to hide” and will not be spared.
“I pity a few of our opponenets, especially the Congress leadeship, for the desperation they have been exhibiting ...Congress leaders are entirely pre-occupied with only one thing - elections.
“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,” he told India Today in an interview.
With regard to the washout of the recent Winter session due to disruptions over demonetisation, the Prime Minister said the government tried its best to keep Parliament functioning.
“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. While opposition in Parliament is understandable, this is the first time it is being used to protect the dishonest and that too so openly,” he said.
On Manmohan Singh’s attack, Modi said, “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.
“His reference to ‘organised loot’ was perhaps a reference to the unending string of scams under his leadership, from the coal scam to the 2G and CWG scams.
Demonetisation on the other hand is an unprecedented step to confiscate the loot of the corrupt.”
Asked whether demonetisation will end corruption in the political system, the Prime Minister said “decisive ways” were required for that.
“There is a need for reforms in the political system,” he said.
He said before the Winter session, he had suggested that there should be discussion in Parliament on reform of the political system and electoral reforms but this could not happen due to disruptions.
Rejecting criticism that the demonetisation decision was political, it was taken not for “short-term windfall gains” but for long-term structural reforms.
“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,” he said.
Asserting that his government has “zero tolerance for corruption”, Modi said the dishonest will be punished and the taxes collected from them will be routed for welfare programmes.
He said the demonetisation will deliver a “multiplier effect” to clean up the economy in the long term.
“Black money is now traced. It will not remain anonymous anymore... The dishonest have only a few days to hide...The government the time, means, and most importantly the will to seek them out,” he said.
Cong takes on Modi over graft, BJP threatens legal action
Sharpening the attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetisation and graft charges, the Congress on Thursday announced launching a nationwide protest campaign from January. its also questioned Modis alleged links with a Gujarat businessman being probed for black money, promoting the BJP to threaten legal action.
Announcing the three-phase nationwide agitation beginning January 6, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala questioned Modi over Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s allegation of having taken Rs 65 crore in kickbacks from Sahara and Birla as the Chief Minister of Gujarat as well as businessman Mahesh Shah who declared Rs 13,860 crore black money under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS). “Former CM of Gujarat Suresh Mehta of BJP had said that Mahesh Shah used to visit Modi when he was the Gujarat CM quite often without any restrictions. Mahesh Shah declared Rs 13,860 crore black money under the Income Declaration Scheme. “Why isn’t Modiji telling us the truth behind Rs 13,860 crore? Is he doing probe into it,” he asked.
60 lakh depositors put Rs 7 lakh cr in banks since Nov 8
As many as 60 lakh individuals and firms have made large deposits totalling an astonishing Rs 7 lakh crore in old notes, top government officials said on Thursday while warning that every penny of tax will be extracted as the black money does not become white by merely putting it in banks.
They said the government will not hound any genuine depositor but at the same time will not hesitate in tracking all such deposits and litigating any tax evasion by a black money holder trying to convert illegal wealth.
Post demonetisation, unaccounted wealth holders have an option to avail of a tax evasion amnesty scheme Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and pay their dues, failing which the government’s long arms will surely catch them, they said.
“People are thinking that money has come into the banking system and it has all become white. This is not so. We have been getting daily information of all the deposits above Rs 2 lakh, Rs 5 lakh and the number and amount deposited. We have been collating this information with past information about the each person,” a top government official told PTI.
“So, there is a huge scope for taxing now which has arisen and we do hope that people will understand that simply because they have put in bank it has become white that is not the case. We do hope that people themselves will come forward to participate in the scheme. But if they don’t, they are not going to be happy,” the official further said.
The tax department is armed with systems to track those with multiple banks accounts as well as those who are depositing in accounts of others and tax department will not leave anyone who is trying to evade taxes, he added. “Even if you take deposits of more than Rs 2 lakh, we have information about more then 60 lakh individuals,
companies and institutions who have deposited more than Rs 7 lakh crore of money. That’s an astonishing number. We will be looking at it. For individuals the deposit figure would be Rs 3-4 lakh crore.