Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday took a jibe at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi 's 'earthquake' remark, saying that the nation finally felt the tremors yesterday.
Referring to the earthquake in Uttarakhand on the evening of 6 February, Modi said, "but at last the earthquake is here. I was thinking how did the earthquake come because the threat came long back. There must be some reason that Mother Earth became so upset."
In December 2016, Rahul Gandhi had said, "If they allow me to speak in parliament, you will see what an earthquake will happen."
Modi was speaking in the Parliament during a discussion on the motion of thanks to the President's address at a joint-session of the Parliament.
He spoke about the Emergency of 1975-77 when democracy was under threat and the freedom of press was curtailed. Hailing India's democrary and 'Jan Shakti', he said that it is because of the power of the people that a man born to a poor family can become the Prime Minister of India.
Calling himself unlucky for not being able to fight in India's struggle for Independence, he said that he was making up for it by working for a better India.
Slamming the opposition for its criticism of the demonetisation move, Modi said that the government was always open for a debate on the matter but it was the opposition that was too busy giving bytes to the media.
He likened the decision with surgery conducted on the human body.
"When can you have an operation? When the body is healthy. For demonetisation, good economy was needed and this was a proper time. Our economy was doing well and our (demonetisation) decision was taken at the right time," Modi said.
"The move was calculative. The decision was taken after Diwali when trade (across the country) was high," he said, adding the move was like the Swachh Bharat mission to clean the economy of ill-gotten wealth accumulated by evading tax.
"Like Swachh Bharat, the decision on demonetisation is a movement to clean India (of corruption and black money)," Modi said.
He said he was aware of political risks but "I am not concerned about the elections".
"I am concerned about my country," he said, urging the opposition "to join the mainstream and contribute in the development of the country."
Hitting out at Congress for raising the issue of change of rules 150 times on demonetisation, Modi said the previous UPA government had changed rules regarding MNREGA 1035 times during its implementation over six years.
Spelling out benefits of demonetisation, he said it has brought everything on the record, including details regarding who has deposited money, where he has deposited and how much has been deposited.
"There was a time when Income Tax officials used to operate arbitrarily. But that is history.... Now by use of technology and data mining, top names would be culled out without an I-T officer needing to go anywhere. They can just send SMS," he said.
"I urge everyone to come to mainstream and contribute to nation building and help the poor," he said.
"Whoever wants to come into mainstream, he can do that and I believe it will make India clean and like the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the economy will be cleansed," Modi said.
Responding to questions raised by the opposition whether black money would be curtailed because of demonetisation, he hit out at Congress, saying it had done nothing to fight this menace.
In this regard, he cited the Supreme Court order of March 2014 which said "since 1947, nobody in last 65 years thought of bringing back black money stashed in foreign bank accounts. The government has failed in its role for 65 years. You have failed in your duty, therefore we order setting up of SIT. Three years have passed you have done nothing."
(With inputs from agencies)
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