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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  Narendra Modi says more anti-corruption measures soon

Narendra Modi says more anti-corruption measures soon

Narendra Modi targets Congress for not supporting demonetisation to curb black money and corruption in the country

Prime minister Narendra Modi with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: AFPPremium
Prime minister Narendra Modi with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: AFP

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday signalled that the government was looking at rolling out fresh anti-corruption initiatives.

Addressing a meeting of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s parliamentary party, Modi reiterated that the demonetisation initiative was part of a larger plan to combat corruption. The resulting economic system would provide for a level playing field, he argued, and enable the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to empower the poor to pursue their aspirations--indicating that his government favoured empowerment over the approach of entitlement pursued by earlier governments.

“The decision on (demonetisation) of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes is a key step in the fight (against corruption and black money) and not the final destination. If we want to stop exploitation of the middle class and fight poverty, we have to take strong steps," Modi said in his address.

ALSO READ | Demonetisation updates: Here is what PM Narendra Modi has said so far

Even as Modi accused Congress and Left parties of opposing a move that “combats black money and corruption", he made it a point to thank Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik for “openly coming out in support" of demonetisation.

“In 1988, Congress party passed a law on benami transactions but they never notified it... they did a lot of publicity on it but did not put it in effect. We took timely decisions. We will take more steps and they will shout again that look Modi is in a hurry. You (Congress) did not do anything for all these years and now you are blaming us for being in a hurry," Modi said in his address.

He argued strongly in defence of the digital economy and said that even as there is a section of people that does not have access to digital modes, those who do should be brought on board. “I envision a day when small traders can get a loan in a maximum of six minutes. All records will be (digitally) ready and no time will be wasted. I have told government officials to not do post mortem on old records either."

The prime minister stressed that demonetisation was recommended by the Wanchoo Committee back in 1971 to end corruption and delay in its implementation had ruined the country. He attacked the Left parties too, saying they had “ideologically comprised" their position by aligning with the Congress, and pointed out that top Left leaders had supported demonetisation in the past.

ALSO READ | Demonetisation: What Rahul Gandhi has said so far

Modi added that for the BJP and the NDA, the country has always been bigger than the party. “For us, the country’s interests are always above the party’s. For the Congress, the party’s interests are above the country’s."

Analysts said Modi’s speech highlights how the government’s focus is going to be on projecting demonetisation as ‘empowerment’ of the poor. “This is the message that they want to spread to the grassroots. The government wants to relate empowerment with development," said A.K. Verma, Kanpur-based political analyst and political science professor at Christ Church College.

“People feel this is the first step against black money and corruption and that it will be linked with the governance agenda of Modi," Verma added.

The prime minister’s address came on the last day of the month-long winter session of Parliament which has been a washout with neither the government nor the opposition led by the Congress blinking on the issue of demonetisation.

While the session began with the opposition demanding Modi’s presence in Parliament during the demonetisation discussion, the latter part was disrupted over corruption allegations against both sides.

On Friday afternoon, both Houses of Parliament were adjourned sine die with the Lok Sabha showing rare unanimity to pass The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014.

ALSO READ | Govt to notify income disclosure scheme for taxing black money hoarders

Both vice-president Hamid Ansari in the Rajya Sabha and Speaker Sumitra Mahajan in the Lok Sabha urged parliamentarians to introspect on their conduct during the session and expressed the hope that upcoming sessions would see more legislative business conducted.

“I had fervently hoped that I would not have to repeat what I said at the conclusion of the session in 2013. Regular and continuous disruptions characterized the session. The symbolism of dignified protest, so essential for orderly conduct of parliamentary proceedings, was abandoned. Members were denied the opportunity to seek accountability. Peace prevailed only when obituaries were read. All sections of the House need to introspect on the distinction between dissent, disruption and agitation," Ansari said in the Rajya Sabha.

“I am hopeful that the coming sessions of Parliament will not see any disruption and we will work together in a constructive manner... I am looking forward to cooperation from each and every member," Mahajan said in the Lok Sabha.

The last day of the winter session saw the Congress and other opposition leaders holding two meetings. One was a brief meeting of Congress leaders with Modi to raise concerns being faced by farmers and demand a loan waiver. Another was a meeting President Pranab Mukherjee had with some opposition parties, including leaders from the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janata Dal, to raise concerns about the winter session. The Left Parties, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Janata Dal (Secular) and Nationalist Congress Party did not attend.

“We have submitted a memorandum to the President. We told him that the month-long winter session was supposed to discuss a lot of issues but it could not happen because of the government’s stance," Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, told reporters after the meeting at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“We have seen the circumstances that have emerged after the demonetisation announcement. A lot of people got affected so why should we not raise this in the Parliament? No concrete steps were taken by the treasury benches (to ensure smooth functioning) and so we met the President," Sharad Yadav of Janata Dal (United) told reporters.

According to data from New Delhi-based PRS Legislative Research, the just-concluded winter session was one of the least productive in the last 15 years. While the Lok Sabha lost 107 hours of scheduled time to disruptions, Rajya Sabha lost 101 hours.

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Updated: 17 Dec 2016, 04:45 AM IST
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