Belagavi (Karnataka): Defending what he called a war unleashed against black money, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday mocked Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi for standing in a queue to exchange Rs 4,000.
“Those who looted the country for 70 years and were involved in mega scams are standing in queue to exchange Rs 4,000,” Modi said without taking Rahul’s name at a function here in the state’s northwest region, about 500 km from state capital Bengaluru.
Gandhi on Friday exchanged eight Rs 500 notes at the State Bank of India’s Parliament Street branch in New Delhi for new notes after standing in a long queue.
Attacking the opposition parties, including the Congress, for criticising his sudden move on November 8 to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, Modi recalled his speech at a public function years ago that given a chance he will ban Rs 1,000 notes.
“I am surprised that the Congress is asking why I stopped Rs 1,000 notes and Rs 500 notes. When your government stopped 25 paise, we did not oppose it. You could stop only 25 paise coins because your power was limited to that much. You did not make higher currency notes illegal during your rule but we did it,” asserted Modi, drawing a huge applause from a 50,000-strong gathering at a stadium here.
The then UPA government withdrew coins of 25 paise denomination and below (10 paise and 5 paise) from June 30, 2011.
Noting that the people had chosen his government to unearth black money and eliminate corruption, Modi said that for three years (2012, 2013 and 2014), newspapers had reported about scams in 2G spectrum and coal block auctions and holding the Commonwealth Games by the “people who were now standing in queue for Rs 4,000”.
“People have chosen a government to act against black money and end corruption. You (Congress) also agreed to stop it but did not have the courage to stop big notes,” reiterated Modi at the centenary celebrations of the Karnataka Lingayat Education Society here.
Clarifying that his government would not harass honest people, the Prime Minister said the dishonest, however, would not be spared and dealt with sternly.
“Enough (money) has been looted. You have seen the looters. For 70 years, the country has been looted; give me 70 months, I will clean it up,” said Modi.