The poor are sleeping peacefully while the rich are lining up to buy sleeping pills, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose government in a surprise move scrapped bank notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations overnight, told his partymen in Ghazipur in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Modi, who claimed he sold tea in his youth, said his decision, though harsh, will have long term benefits.
"My decision is a little harsh. When I was young, poor people used to ask for 'kadak chai' (strong tea), but it spoils the mood of the rich who can't bear its taste," Modi said.
"Gareeb chayn ki neend so raha hai aur amir neend ki goliyan khareedne ke liye bazaar mein chakkar kaat raha hai," he said.
The Congress party has dubbed as "hasty and faulty" the Centre's decision to demonetise high-value currency notes and the Opposition parties are already gearing up to corner the government during the winter session of Parliament.
A delegation of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC), led by its vice-president A Gandhiraj, presented a petition to the acting Chief Secretary of the union territory, G Narendra Kumar, drawing the Centre's attention to the "sufferings of the common man".
The petition alleged that the demonetisation was a "cover up political stunt to conceal the inefficiency of the Centre" in unearthing the black money stashed away safely in foreign banks.
Modi also took a dig at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi by saying that those involved in scams are now having to stand in line to withdraw Rs 4000. Gandhi stood in line with others at the SBI's Parliament Street branch on Friday to withdraw money.
Modi ji says the poor are sleeping peacefully&rich are taking sleeping pills,but look at us. Rich are in peace,can simply throw money: Bablu pic.twitter.com/038MeLoyqQ— ANI (@ANI_news) November 15, 2016
People in large numbers seen waiting outside ATM in Delhi's Bhajanpura in early morning hours pic.twitter.com/G4BphEcUWg— ANI (@ANI_news) November 15, 2016
Stating that he understood the inconvenience being faced by people due to demonetisation, Modi compared his action to a new whitewash which gives out pungent smell, but is necessary.
Particularly stinging in his criticism of Congress which has accused him of causing harassment to the common people, the PM recalled that Congress governments had imposed Emergency, stifling rights of the people and the media, and had banned 'chavanni' (25 paise coins).
"Under which law did they ban 'chavanni', it is another thing that they could not move beyond 'chavanni' ... you took the step as per your stature and we did what matched ours," he said taking a swipe at the opposition party.
"You (Nehru) are no more, leaders from your party and your family are levelling false allegations, still on your birthday I am starting work to complete your unfulfilled desire for the development of people," Modi said. (With PTI inputs)