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PM Modi slams Manmohan Singh for his `loot` and `plunder` comments on demonetisation, says fight against corruption is not political

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday targeted his predecessor Manmohan Singh for describing demonetisation as “loot” and “plunder” and said that politicians should learn from the former PM how to maintain a clean image even after 35 long years of public life dotted with scams under his stewardship.

At the same time, he asserted in the Rajya Sabha that the fight against black money is not a political one or against any party.

Tearing into the Congress, during a debate on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address (which was later adopted by the House after negation of all the 651 amendments), PM Modi took on Singh, saying “the art of bathing in a bathroom with a raincoat on” is known only to the former prime minister as there is “no blot on him” despite “all the scams”.

This provoked an angry reaction from Congress members who staged a walkout.

Members of Left, Trinamool Congress and JD(U) also staged a walkout after the reply, complaining that they were unhappy with PM Modi’s statement and wanted to ask questions which was disallowed.

PM Modi, in his over one-hour speech, focussed his attack on Congress and other Opposition parties for criticising the demonetisation decision and his push for cash-less economy.

He also slammed the Congress for finding faults with lack of proper infrastructure in the country, saying by doing so, they were only presenting their “report card” of 70-year rule.

Targeting Singh, he said, “in this country, perhaps there will be hardly anyone from the economic field who has had dominance on the country’s financial affairs for half of the country’s 70 years of independence. Out of 70 years, for 30-35 years, he has been directly associated with financial decisions. So many scams occurred. We politicians have a lot to learn from Dr Sahab. So much happened, there is not a single blot on him.”

As Congress members created uproar and staged a walkout, an angry PM Modi said, “if you cross the limits of decorum, then you should have courage to listen to the response. We have the capacity to pay in the same coin. We do so within the limits of decorum and boundaries of the Constitution. They (Congress) don’t want to accept the defeat in any form. How long will it continue?”

He went on to add, “the person who held such a high post, used the words ‘loot’ and ‘plunder’ in the House. Then they (Congress) also should have thought 50 times (before using those words).”

Singh, while speaking in the Rajya Sabha during the last Winter Session, had castigated the PM Modi over demonetisation, saying its implementation was a “monumental management failure” and a case of “organised loot and legalised plunder.”

Responding to those comments today, the PM also took a swipe at Singh using the pretext of a book.

“Manmohan Singh ji had delivered a speech here. Recently a book was released in which Manmohan Singh ji had written the ‘Foreword’. Initially, I thought he is a renowned economist and it (the book) will have his contribution. But then I realised that the book was written by somebody else and he had only written the ‘Foreword’. In his speech also, I felt the same,” the Prime Minister said.

This triggered an uproar from the Congress members.

To this, PM Modi took a dig, saying, “the word I did not even utter, that too they (Congress members) have understood.”

As Congress members shouted slogans, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu took strong objection, questioning why the opposition members were so agitated when terms like “Hitler” were used against Modi in the same House, as per PTI.

“I request you to go through the records. Prime Minister was called Hitler. PM was called Mussolini,” Naidu said.

PM Modi, whose speech was interrupted a number of times due to Opposition uproar, also took on the Congress for quoting economists to denounce demonetisation.

“You are quoting economists. If you quote 10, I can quote 20. Economists have never seen such a step anywhere in the world as this has happened for the first time… In fact, this can become a case study for them,” he said. 

Prime Minister also targeted Indira Gandhi, saying the then former PM never tabled the Wanchoo Committee report against black money in Parliament in the early 1970s.

“(Madhav) Godbole’s book mentions it. Why did you not protest against him or take any action when he came out with the book? Were you sleeping at that time?” PM Modi asked, looking at the Congress MPs.

Speaking of demonetisation, PM Modi said that the economists’ or the experts’ opinions about the effect of demonetisation on the Indian economy being thrown around by the opposition had little weight as “they (economists) cannot give any accurate opinion about demonetisation”.

“They have never seen it before, so how can they judge it. This is an unparalleled move. No such huge decision was ever taken anywhere in the world,” he said.

He said the move created a “horizontal divide” in the society – that of neta versus public.

“Usually it is public versus the government whenever a tough decision is taken by a government. But this time around, it was government plus public versus others,” PM Modi said, as per IANS

He said that digitalisation of the economy could be difficult but to criticise this idea altogether, which he said opposition was doing, was ridiculous.

The Prime Minister said that institutions like the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and its Governor should not be dragged into a controversy.

PM Modi cited an extract from a book by former RBI Governor D Subba Rao wherein he has expressed his displeasure with then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s decision, and has accused him of treading in the exclusive territory of the RBI without even keeping him in the loop.

“We have not undermined RBI’s authority, we have given it greater autonomy by amending the RBI Act,” PM Modi said.

Opposition leaders including Sitaram Yechury of CPI-M and Sharad Yadav of JD-U tried to intervene at certain points while Modi was speaking but the Prime Minister told them to sit down and put their point later.

After the speech when Yadav and Yechury stood up to made their point, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi objected to it saying there was no tradition of putting up a point after the Prime Minister’s reply.

PM Modi, who is often attacked by Opposition for not giving credit to previous government, said, “No government comes to power to sleep. Earlier governments would have made attempts (for country’s development). I have said it from Red Fort also that all previous governments have contributed and that is how we reached here”.

On Opposition making fun of Swacch Bharat programme, he said “shall we oppose everything?…This cannot be an issue of making fun”.

He said santitation was dear to Mahatma Gandhi and asked if the opposition would have acted in same way had he been around.

“Thinking should be positive. Even if difficulties, ways can be found,” Modi said and added that negative thinking was causing a lot of harm to the country. 

(With Agency inputs)

Source: Zee News