Demonetisation and not surgical strikes is set to become the major poll issue in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. Addressing a rally in Ghazipur in Eastern UP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sharpened his attack on the Opposition for his decision to declare high denomination currency notes as illegal tender.
"This decision has rattled the corrupt. While the poor have not lost their sleep over it, the rich are going around buying sleeping pills," PM Modi said.
Modi said that those dealing in black money were very powerful people who have the power to dislodge a government, make them look small. "I know what I am going through, but there will be no place for the corrupt in this country," he added.
Gone are the days when you saw people being garlanded with wads of currency notes virtually covering their faces, he said in an obvious reference to Mayawati who once wore such a garland made up of Rs 1000 notes.
"Ever since I declared high denomination notes as illegal tender, these people are extremely worried," the PM said.
In an apparent response to the criticism that the decision on black money was like a financial emergency, Modi said that the Congress had converted the country into a jail for 19 months whereas "I am only requesting you to bear with the problems arising out of my decision for only 50 days".
Today being a bank holiday on account of Guru Nanak Jayanti, a massive crowd, most of which otherwise would have had to line up outside banks, had gathered to listen to the Prime Minister at Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh.
Flagging off the Ghazipur-Kolkata train, differently name as "Shabdbhedi" and laying the foundation stone of a bridge to be built across the Ganga, Modi invoked Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary saying that he was completing an unfinished task of the country's first Prime Minister.
Dramatising a scene from Parliament, Modi said that a weeping Vishwanath Pratap, an MP from Ghazipur, had narrated before Nehru how the poverty-stricken people were forced to pick grains from cow dung for their survival. Following this, Nehru formed a committee under HM Patel for the development of the region.
The recommendations of the committee lay buried under heaps of paper, Modi pointed out, as he said that eight Prime Ministers who, incidentally included Atal Bihar Vajpayee, from UP before him had not bothered to look at those recommendations.
"I am the ninth Prime Minister from UP and Panditji, the task that you, your party men and descendants left unfinished is now being done by me," Modi said. The work on the proposed bridge, Modi said, had already begun.
Both the train and the proposed bridge would go a long a way in the development of the region afflicted with poverty.
In an emotional appeal he urged the people to convince those in villages and elsewhere to bear with the problems arising out of the decision on black money as it was aimed at the larger good of the country.
Reacting to the Prime Minister's speech, UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav questioned the PM's assurance that the banking related problems would not last beyond 50 days. "According to my assessment people will continue to suffer for two months and more" due to the tardy implementation of the black money decision.
The government, he said, had not realised the serious problems its decision would entail causing hardships to the common man and the poor.
He also wanted to know if there was a guarantee that Pakistan won't start counterfeiting the new Rs 2000 and Rs 500 notes.