Mumbai: Unmindful of the growing political opposition and risk to the traditional political constituency of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday stepped up the ante in what he alluded to as the crusade against corruption.

Following up on the move to partially demonetize the currency undertaken last week, Modi warned of an imminent crackdown on benami properties—the enabling law came into effect on 1 November.

“This would be a legislation-backed offensive against benami properties," Modi said after he laid the foundation stone for Mopa greenfield airport and an electronic goods manufacturing city in Panaji.

By positioning his fight against corruption as a means of empowering the poor, Modi has made it difficult for his political opponents—some of whom have called for a special discussion on the withdrawal of high-value bank notes in the upcoming winter session of Parliament.

Claiming that the mandate in the general election of 2014—which gave the BJP a majority of its own in the Lok Sabha, the first for any political party in 30 years—was against corruption, Modi said he was bound to deliver on his electoral promise; and wouldn’t be discouraged by sustained attacks from the political opposition.

“I have left home, family, everything for the nation," Modi said in a choked voice before adding “he was not born for kursi (political chair)."

In a tacit admission that the transition of currency demonetization is not going to plan, he made a direct appeal to people.

“Please bear with me for 50 days and I promise I will give you the Hindustan that you have always wanted. I have unleashed this war on corruption and black money because of my faith in the honest people of this country and I want all honest people of my country to walk with me in this great war," Modi said.

“The world is progressing and this disease of black money and corruption is giving India a bad name. The future of 800 million Indian youths below the age of 35 is at stake and we owe this to them," Modi said.

Deploying his oratorical skills and flair for theatre, Modi sought the blessings of the people of Goa saying that they were a microcosm of the nation. After the speech, Modi, bowing and with folded hands, walked across the stage seeking people’s support.

Without naming Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who on Friday stood in a queue to withdraw cash, Modi mocked the previous government for “2G scam, Koyla scam", saying people involved in these scams were “lining up for 4000 rupees."

Modi applauded the patience being shown by people and bank employees for putting in long hours of work. “I am aware of the powers and people that have gone against me after this announcement. I am aware that they can destroy me and that they will be after my life. Let them do what they want but I am cleaning the dirt of 70 years. Please give me just fifty days," Modi said in conclusion

Senior journalist and commentator Prakash Joshi said Modi had used all his skills of rhetoric, theatre, and emotional messaging, to reach out directly to people. “He is a master at deploying this strategy and this is similar to how Indira Gandhi would react when cornered," Joshi said.

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