Moradabad (Uttar Pradesh), Dec 3 Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said he “will find a way” to jail the rich who had after demonetisation stashed their ill-gotten wealth in Jan Dhan bank accounts of the poor, and let the poor retain their money.
Defending his decision to demonetise old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes, Modi acknowledged the inconvenience caused to people by the November 8 move but said it would end all problems, including poverty, corruption and black money, in the country.
Addressing a rally here in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Modi said the decision had rattled those who hoarded large quantities of black money and the rich were now queuing up in front of the houses of the poor, pleading with them to get the wealth deposited in their Jan Dhan accounts.
“Whoever has deposited the money in your accounts, don’t withdraw a rupee from it. See how they will plead and fall at your feet. If they threaten you tell them, ‘I will write a letter to Modi’,” he said.
“If you promise you won’t withdraw the money or return it to them, I promise I will find a way to send these people to jail and you can retain the money.”
Modi took a dig at his political opponents who have denounced the surprise decision to recall nearly 86 per cent of currency in circulation that has caused an unprecedented cash crunch in India.
He said the hardship of standing in queues for cash after demonetisation was unavoidable.
Modi said the previous governments had made India stand in queues for everything.
“We had to stand in queue to buy sugar, to buy kerosene, to buy wheat. Thanks to those who ruled (earlier) this country was being wasted away in queues.
“What I have done is start a queue to end all other queues,” the Prime Minister said.
“This will be the last queue for the people who have been standing in line for the last 70 years for their daily needs.”
Modi emphasised that he won’t let the hardships of the people go waste and urged them to start getting cashless and use their mobile phones as their wallets.
“You don’t need to withdraw money from ATMs. You can buy whatever you want from the money in your account using your phones.”
He said that his main aim was to fight corruption and get back the black money people have hidden. Modi lamented that he was being criticised for doing this.
“Has this country not been held back by corruption? Don’t we need to weed out this corruption? Will this corruption go away on its own?” he asked.
“I am surprised that in my own country some people are accusing me. Is it a sin that those who were looting the country were now being made accountable?”
He said that he considered the public his leader and “I have no high command”.
Modi also said that he had no vested interest. “What can they (opponents) do to me? I am a fakir (hermit). I will pack my bags and leave.”
The Prime Minister said poverty needed to be eradicated from big states if India was to progress.
“To eradicate poverty from the country, we first need to eradicate poverty from the bigger states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, West Bengal,” he said.
He also targeted the previous governments for the lack of electrification in Moradabad.
“More than 1,000 villages in Moradabad didn’t even have access to electricity. They were forced to live in the 18th century,” he said.
Modi, who was elected as an MP from Uttar Pradesh, said he has pledged to ensure the state becomes poverty free.
He said with development, employment would follow and people will get a better lifestyle.
“Many governments came to power and made announcements, but this government believes in transparent public spending,” Modi said.