Panaji (IANS) Even as lakhs across India queue up outside ATMs and banks for a fourth day to surrender demonetised currency and withdraw cash, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday made an impassioned plea to the nation to give him 50 days to weed out ill-gotten wealth in India.
Modi, who broke down during his speech in Goa, also said that his dramatic decision to demonetise 500 and 1,000 rupee notes had placed him in the cross-hairs of vested interests, but vowed to end black money and corruption with more projects.
“I know what kind of powers I have taken on. I know the kind of people who will be against me now. I am looting what they had accumulated over 70 years,” Modi said in his speech at the Shama Prasad Mukherjee indoor stadium in Bambolim village near Panaji.
During his three-hour stay in Goa, the Prime Minister digitally laid the foundation for two major projects, including a greenfield civilian airport.
“They will not leave me alive. They will destroy me. Let them do what they want. (For) 50 days, help me. The country should just help me for 50 days,” Modi said, adding that the same vested interests were now fuelling panic by spreading rumours about salt shortage.
“This is not the end. This is not a full stop. I am openly saying, this is not a full stop… There are other projects in my mind to stop dishonesty and corruption in the country. These projects are coming… I am doing this for the poor, honest people for those who are working hard to survive,” Modi added in his hour-long speech.
At one time, he halted for a few seconds to check his emotions while saying he had sacrificed his home and family for the sake of the country.
The Prime Minister, addressing his first public function in the country after the dramatic demonetisation announcement of November 8, said his decision was a “secret operation” for nearly 10 months and a part of a series of “doses” he was administering to cure the economic system.
Modi said people should not have been surprised with the demonetisation decision as he had been vocal and frank about his campaign against black money and corruption in the run up to the 2014 polls.
His government had taken several steps to rein in black money early on, including setting up a Supreme Court-monitored special investigation team to probe the issue, launching a voluntary disclosure of income scheme and bringing jewellery purchase into the tax net.
“Did you not ask me to work against black money? If you had asked me to do it, should I have done it or not? You tell me, if you had asked me, then you would have imagined that there would be some inconvenience,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister also said that criticism would not deter him from his objective of reining in black money and pursuit of inclusive development.
“When I came up with this scheme (Jan Dhan Yojana), I was mocked in Parliament… Even if you burn Modi alive, Modi does not get scared.”
The Prime Minister said his trips abroad were to carry out the much-needed alterations to agreements with foreign countries, to benefit India, adding he had been able to convince even America to keep tabs and inform New Delhi about Indian money being routed in and out of its banks.
“I have done this with other countries and in other cases talks are on. We are making provisions to keep track of Indian money from going abroad.”
Modi thanked bank officials for putting in herculean efforts to implement his demonetisation plan, but slammed the critics of the dramatic move.
“They measure others according to their own parameters. The economists of the country, those who understand the pulse of the country, have analysed and used these parameters to measure past governments. Had they changed their parameters, they would not have thought on these lines,” he said.