A day ahead of the nation-wide protests planned by the opposition against demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the move and warned unscrupulous people using the Jan Dhan accounts of the poor to launder their black money of strict action.
Lead opposition party Congress continued to target Modi over demonetising old high-denomination currency notes, terming it a “political move made without preparation” that stemmed from his propensity for “dhamaka politics” (politics aimed at seeking publicity).
The JD(U) will, however, not be a part of the proposed protests as its leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has supported demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.
With Jan Dhan accounts witnessing a surge in deposits, Modi issued a warning to those using poor people to park their illegal money, saying the strict ‘benami’ law would be implemented against such transactions. He appealed to the people to shift to cashless system of transactions like mobile banking and asked the youth to help in this process by educating the elders and those not literate.
In his monthly radio programme Mann ki Baat, first after the demonetisation decision, Modi devoted substantial part of the 37-minute broadcast to the issue over which he is under opposition attack.
The PM said, “Even now, some people think they can bring their black money, the money earned through corruption or the one which is unaccounted for, back into the system through illegal means. “Unfortunately, they are misusing the poor for this purpose by misleading, luring or tempting them by putting money into their accounts.”
He said “a very stringent law to deal with ‘benami’ transactions is being implemented, that will make such things (transactions) very difficult. Government does not want the people to face such difficulties.”
“I would tell such (unscrupulous) people that to reform or not reform is your wish. Following the law or not is your wish - that the law will take care of. But please don’t play with the life of the poor. Don’t do anything due to which, when there is an investigation, the name of the poor comes on record and he gets into trouble because of you.”
Later, addressing BJP’s ‘Parivartan Yatra’ in UP’s Kushinagar, Modi repeatedly attacked his rivals for calling a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on Monday.
“We are trying to check black money and they are busy calling a Bharat Bandh. Tell me, what should be stopped? Should black money be stopped or a Bharat Bandh be called?”
Speaking to reporters in Delhi, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, however, said no ‘Bharat Bandh’ has been called and that opposition parties will only hold protests across the country against demonetisation.