Targeting his opponents, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the disruption of Parliament over demonetization by Opposition parties was akin to the ‘distraction’ of Indian soldiers caused by Pakistani shelling along the border in their bid to let terrorists infiltrate into India.
In a similar fashion, the PM said, the Opposition parties were devising “new tactics” to “help the corrupt.” “When Pakistan wants to send infiltrators into India, it starts firing on the border. That keeps our army occupied and the infiltrators manage to sneak in under the cover…These days you must have seen the ‘tu-tu main-main’ (arguments) in Parliament. Now I know who is really benefiting from the disruptions,” the PM said at a function at the Banaras Hindu University in his Lok Sabha constituency. This is Mr. Modi’s first visit to Varanasi after demonetization on November 8.
In a counter-attack on the Opposition for their argument that the government had failed to assess the magnitude of distress caused by demonetization, Mr. Modi in a mocking tone said though he had an idea of demonetization he had no clue of the support the “dishonest” would get from his political opponents after its implementation. “I had an assessment of many things. But I had never calculated that some politicians and political parties would stand beside the corrupt and the dishonest,” the PM said.
In his speech laced with sarcasm and taunts, Mr. Modi launched a scathing attack on top Congress leaders, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and former finance minister P. Chidambaram, saying in opposing him “some leaders had lost their balance.”
He especially ridiculed Mr. Gandhi for his oratory and political skills, and made a sarcastic reference to his threat of causing a tremor by make revelations about the PM’s alleged involvement in corruption.
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PM @narendramodi interacts with youngsters during his visit to Varanasi.
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Downsizing Mr. Gandhi to a “yuva neta” (youth leader), the PM said that since the Nehru-Gandhi scion “started speaking and learnt to deliver speeches,” there was “no end to his happiness.” Back in 2009, there was no way of figuring out what Mr. Gandhi had in store, Mr. Modi went on, but today all was clear. “We did not know what was inside the packet then. Now we are coming to know,” the PM said, triggering laughter from the crowd.
In a reference to Mr. Gandhi’s “earthquake” threat, Mr. Modi said had he not spoken the country would have to live through a terrible earthquake. “It would take us 10 years to recover. Thank god, he started speaking. Now we know there is no danger of a tremor,” Mr. Modi said. “If black money is being exposed on one hand, black minds are being exposed too,” the PM said.
Mr. Modi termed Mr. Gandhi to a “youth leader who is learning to give speeches.” He targeted Mr. Gandhi saying his argument that since 60 percent of the people were illiterate online banking would not be practical, was an indictment of the Congress regimes of the past.“ Did I make the people illiterate through some magic trick? Who kept them illiterate,” the PM asked.
In a similar vein, he tore into former PM Dr. Singh for his speech in Parliament against cashless economy on the premise of rampant poverty, “50 per cent of the population,” in the country. It amounted to Dr. Singh’s own admission of failure on removing poverty, Mr. Modi concluded. “Is this his own report card? Country’s poor… whose legacy is this? You are former PM we take you seriously. But you are giving your report card, I am glad about that. Few people know he has been involved in the core economic planning of the country since 1970-72.”
Taking on former finance minister, Mr. Chidambaram for his remark that since 50 per cent of villages in the country did not have electric supply cashless economy was not possible, Mr. Modi responded: “Did I uproot the electric polls and wires?”
The PM was speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Cancer Centre in Varanasi. The project would cost Rs. 600 crore. The PM is scheduled to inaugurate and laying the foundation stone of projects worth Rs. 2100 crore in his constituency on Thursday.