New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched a scathing attack against the Congress in the Lok Sabha and blamed the party for promoting dynasty politics in the country.
Potentially stirring a controversy, a day after an earthquake with its epicentre in the poll-bound state of Uttarakhand, he said, “An earthquake happened last night. I express my sentiments for those who have faced inconvenience in the affected regions... but after all, the earthquake happened. I was thinking how this earthquake happened because we were hearing warnings about it for a long time," Modi said in the Lok Sabha.
His comment was an apparent jibe to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who had said last month that an “earthquake" will come, while speaking on demonetisation in Parliament. “The government is running away from debate… if they allow me to speak then you will see what an earthquake will come," Gandhi had told reporters during the winter session.
An earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale hit Uttarakhand on Monday night, tremors of which were felt in Delhi and other parts of northern India.
Responding to PM Modi’s comments, Congress’s official Twitter handle said, “PM Modi using a natural calamity, like earthquake, to make a political point shows the depths to which he will descend to."
In his address, which lasted over one and a half hours, Modi sought to defend his decision to demonetise the old Rs500, Rs1,000 currency notes, announced on 8 November 2016, and spoke on a number of other issues including the surgical strikes, allotment of funds by the government to several social sector schemes in the budget as well as the rural jobs scheme. He was replying to a discussion on the Motion of Thanks to President Pranab Mukherjee’s joint address to Parliament on the opening day of the budget session.
“Black money starts with cash. Like Swachh Bharat, the decision on demonetisation is a movement to clean India (from corruption and black money). The timing of note ban was perfect...," Modi said.
Reacting to the criticism of keeping demonetisation a secret from everyone, including the Union cabinet, he said that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money on the first day of taking office, making its intention clear on the issue.
“From the first day the government is saying that the government is ready for a discussion. You were interested in giving TV bytes but not hold a discussion because you thought that Modi may take advantage of the situation. If you look at the period before May 2014, there were voices raised (from then opposition) on how much money went in coal, 2G... It was a matter of happiness when voices were raised asking me how much money I got back," Modi said.
He questioned the Congress government for delaying a law to control benami properties which was first proposed in 1988.
“In 1988, when Rajiv Gandhi was the PM, you made a benami property law. What was the reason that it wasn’t notified till now? If that would have happened, the country would be well on its way to becoming a clean economy," he said