Navjot Singh Sidhu, the Punjab minister and the Congress’s star campaigner, continued with his spate of attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections. Campaigning for the Congress in Gujarat, Sidhu on Wednesday took swipes at PM Modi citing demonetisation, zero-balance bank account opening scheme and the government’s push for yoga.
“America ne 100 dollar bana diya, England ne 50 pound bana diya lekin tumne 500 ka kaatke, 1000 ka kaatke 2000 ka gulabi kar diya…Rashtrabhakit ki baat karte ho (the US introduced $100, England introduced 50 pound but you withdrew currency denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and introduced Rs 2,000 notes instead, and you talk of patriotism),” said Sidhua at an election rally in Ahmedabad.
He was referring to November 2016-decision of the government announcing demonetisation of high-value currencies of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. The decision had, in effect, withdrawn about 86 per cent of the money in circulation at the time.
The government defended demonetisation as a necessary step for course correction in the Indian economy. The Opposition, on the other hand, criticised the government saying that notes ban decision led to huge job loss and caused damage to the informal economy.
Sidhu, who switched sides from the BJP to the Congress ahead of 2017 Punjab Assembly election, targeted PM Modi over jan dhan bank accounts for which the BJP-led government ran a campaign under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) to bring even the poorest section of society to the ambit of banking.
“Is it your patriotism Mr Narendra Modi that people who have empty stomachs are being made to perform yoga? Stomach is empty and people are being made to do yoga, people’s pockets are empty but are made to open bank accounts,” said the Congress leader referring to the government’s campaign for opening zero-balance bank accounts.
PM Modi, in his public speeches and interviews, has claimed that since the PMJDY was launched in August 2014, the scheme has ensured that every family has access to banks. The Opposition has, however, called the scheme a failure.
Sidhu’s fresh attack on PM Modi came close on the heels of his remarks at an election rally in Bihar which stoked a controversy. In Katihar Lok Sabha constituency on Tuesday, Sidhu asked the Muslim voters to vote en bloc against the BJP-led ruling coalition.
“I have come here to warn you. They (BJP) are dividing you by bringing people like (Asaduddin) Owaisi, by making a new party contest elections here to divide your votes and secure victory. If you stay together…you make 64 per cent of the population here, you are in majority…if you vote together, everything will turn upside down, Modi will be finished,” said Sidhu.
Meanwhile, an FIR has been lodged against Sidhu for violating the model code of conduct by exhorting Muslim voters against PM Modi. The FIR was lodged on the basis of a complaint lodged by the Election Commission’s flying squad.
Apr 17, 2019 16:24 IST