New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday directed all Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarians and legislative assembly members to submit their bank transaction details from 8 November to 31 December to party president Amit Shah on 1 January 2017.
The move allows Modi and the BJP to renew their claim to the moral high ground in the fight against corruption in public office by seeking to get their own house in order. The decision to partially demonetize currency denominations of Rs1,000 and Rs500 has been politically packaged as part of a larger crackdown on black money—a key electoral promise of the BJP in the 16th general election.
Not only does this move have the potential to put pressure on the opposition to make similar disclosures, it will make it even more difficult for the BJP’s rivals to argue their case against demonetisation.
To be sure it is not clear whether the disclosures of bank details by BJP MPs will be made public.
The new directive from the prime minister comes just two days after the monthly radio programme Mann Ki Baat in which Modi categorically stated that there was a deliberate attempt by opposition parties to confuse the people on the issue of demonetisation.
Several opposition parties have tried to corner the BJP on the issue of demonetisation of high value currency notes and have alleged that the news was selectively leaked to BJP members.
In the course of the BJP’s parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday, senior leaders of the party also urged MPs to visit their constituencies and motivate traders in panchayats, municipalities and other local bodies to shift to cashless transactions.
The prime minister also told parliamentarians that proposed changes to the Income Tax (IT) Act will help in using the unearthed black money from the rich people to fund new welfare programmes for the poor.
“The amendment is not for turning black money into white but to spend the money looted from the poor on their welfare," parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar told the media after Modi’s speech at the BJP meeting.
Kumar further said the tax collected on the money deposited under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan scheme will be spent on electricity, roads, toilets and education, among other welfare measures.
The government on Monday proposed another income disclosure scheme—less than two months after the closure of an earlier scheme—but on more stringent terms and entailing a higher compliance burden.
Analysts said that with such a move the prime minister is stepping up his crusade against corruption.
“With this step, he (Modi) is positioning himself as a person going all out on corruption. First demonetisation and now this," said Manisha Priyam, a New Delhi based political analyst.
She added, “PM Modi is entering into the area of political corruption and starting by interrogating his own people. It increases the pressure on other political parties as well."
Meanwhile, both Houses of Parliament witnessed repeated adjournments on Tuesday as the opposition parties continued their demand that the prime minister attend the demonetisation debate in Parliament.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati said the prime minister should come to the House and listen to the discussion on hardships caused to the common man.
Kumar responded by saying that the government is ready for discussion from the first day of the winter session and Modi will intervene in both Houses if the opposition wants him to.
PTI contributed to this story.