NEW DELHI: Even as BJP MPs hailing from Uttar Pradesh claimed that the momentum in favour of the saffron outfit was sliding ahead of the Assembly elections due to demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the “nation is above party interests”.
In an address to the parliamentary party meeting of the BJP on the last day of the winter session of Parliament, the prime minister said the Wanchoo Committee in 1971 had recommended demonetisation but the government headed by the Congress did not implement the suggestions fearing an electoral setback.
Citing a book, Modi told BJP MPs that when then finance minister Y B Chavan went to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and supported the recommendations on demonetisation, she had asked if the Congress did not have to fight elections. “Only one question. Are no elections to be fought by the Congress party?” Modi quoted Gandhi as having asked Chavan.
With this pretext, Modi asked the BJP MPs, “Tell me, if the party is bigger or the country.”
The prime minister accused the Congress of having put its interests before the country’s. On the other hand, he said, the BJP put the country’s interests before the party’s.
Modi also used the opportunity to hit back at former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who had attacked demonetisation claiming that the move was “organised plunder and legalised loot”. While quoting Manmohan’s comments made in 1991, Modi said that Manmohan had once used “the language of threat” against tax evaders but his voice has completely changed now”. “Why? Because he is worried about his party, not country,” said Modi.
Modi also launched scathing attack on the Opposition for disrupting the winter session of Parliament. He said the Opposition used to disrupt the proceedings over reports of scams. “But the Congress-led parties are now doing so against the government’s steps to curb black money and corruption. The Left parties have compromised their ideology even as their mentors and communist leaders Jyoti Basu and Harkishan Singh Surjeet had supported the idea of demonetisation,” Modi said.
He also claimed that the Opposition’s criticism of demonetisation was proof for its support for the “dishonest and corrupt”. “Political values have fallen so much that Opposition parties are brazenly speaking in favour of the dishonest, something that used to be done earlier secretively,” he said and exhorted the BJP MPs to fight to get rid the country of corruption and black money with confidence.