VARANASI -- In a scathing attack on opposition for stalling Parliament over demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday alleged they were trying to "rescue the corrupt" like Pakistan gives cover fire to terrorists to cross border and said the note ban has exposed the 'kala dhan' (black money) as well as 'kale mann' (ill-intentions) of many.
"Many people say I had not taken account of the consequences of this huge step. In fact, the only thing that I could not take into account was the brazenness with which many political parties and leaders will come to the rescue of the corrupt. But I am happy that this drive aimed at eliminating 'kala dhan' has exposed so many 'kale mann'," Modi said.
The Prime Minister, who was on his first tour of his Lok Sabha constituency after ₹500 and ₹1000 notes were demonetized on 8 November, was speaking at a function organised inside the Banaras Hindu University campus.
Charging the opposition parties, which have been attacking the government over demonetization, with "brazenly standing in support of the corrupt and the dishonest", Modi compared their stalling of parliamentary proceedings during the latest session to "firing at the borders by Pakistan in a bid to provide cover to infiltrators".
He also hit back at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and P Chidambaram, saying their argument that promoting cashless economy was futile due to poverty, illiteracy and electricity not reaching villages in the country "exposes" their own report card.
Modi said poverty is Singh's legacy adding the former Prime Minister's image is clean but a number of major scams had taken place during his tenure.
Reacting to his predecessor's assertion in Parliament that a cashless economy was not feasible for the country where nearly 50% of people were poor, the Prime Minister said, "I wonder whether he was giving his own report card by admitting the dismal situation."
"After all, he has not just been the Prime Minister for two terms and a Finance Minister previously. Since the 1970s he has been holding key positions".
Taking on former Finance Minister Chidambaram over his remark that online transactions could not find wide acceptance in India since nearly half of its villages were not even electrified, Modi said "whose faults is he pointing at. Did I uproot electric poles or snap cables in villages which had electricity".
He also took potshots at Rahul Gandhi's assertion that payments through cards, online transfers etc. would face hurdles in the country due to low literacy levels, saying, "I hope he does not say that I had indulged in some sort of black magic to make illiterate those who knew how to read and write."
"He never thinks before he speaks and he may not have realized that he has admitted the failure of the long reign of his own party."
Urging the people to have patience in the face of the inconveniences which have ensued demonetisation, Modi said, making use of a metaphor, "The stench of a garbage heap becomes unbearable when a cleanliness drive starts. But if we persevere and remove every bit of filth, we can build a beautiful garden on the clean spot".
Reiterating the need to move towards a "cashless economy", Modi said "once black money is eliminated from the system, it is essential to ensure that fresh black money is not generated. Net banking, mobile banking and payment through cards is the way forward".
Earlier, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stones for a cancer research centre and a super specialty hospital and stressed on the need for "not just health insurance but also health assurance wherein the poorest of the poor have access to the best possible treatment and medicines".
Modi, who also interacted with artistes performing a stage play "Chanakya", hailed the political and economic thought of the ancient Indian strategist saying "so many ideas have come and gone but he remains as relevant as ever".
Offering words of appreciation for the ongoing "Rashtriya Sanskritik Mahotsav" (national cultural festival at BHU), Modi said, "Art must be a part of our life and artistes must get due respect since it is art alone that can prevent human beings from becoming like robots which have intelligence but no sensitivity."
The Prime Minister was speaking in the presence of Union Ministers Mahesh Sharma and Anupriya Patel.
Also on HuffPost India: