In a bid to put a stop to allegations that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders knew about ‘note ban’ in advance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked all party Members of Parliament (MPs) and legislators to submit their bank account statements between November 8, the day demonetisation
was announced, and December 31 to party chief Amit Shah.
The directive, which the PM announced at Tuesday’s BJP parliamentary party meeting, will apply only to party leaders, and not their spouses or children. In his address, party chief Shah appealed to party MPs to fan out in rural areas “to counter the propaganda that opposition parties have spread against demonetisation” in small towns and villages.
Centre claims fringe benefits from ‘note ban’
Party leaders also claimed the results of civic body elections in Maharashtra and Gujarat, where the BJP has scored handsome victories, were evidence that people have supported the PM’s ‘note ban’ decision. In a tweet, Modi said the BJP’s successes in the recent Assembly and parliamentary bypolls across India, and now civic election results “illustrate that people want all-round progress of the nation and will not tolerate corruption and misgovernance”.
A senior government strategist claimed that the opposition – after the failure of its protests against demonetisation
on Monday, civic poll results and the passage of Income Tax Act amendment in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday – would now see the writing on the wall that the people are with the government and allow Parliament to function.
He said the income tax Act amendments have ensured that ‘black money’ will be used for the specific purpose of welfare of the poor, and not go to the Consolidated Fund of India. “It will be a political suicide if the opposition parties continue to stall Parliament.”
Government strategists believe the opposition cannot afford to stall the goods and services tax (GST)-related Bills in the current atmosphere in the country, but didn’t rule out their passage as ‘money Bills’ if the opposition persists with its protests inside Parliament. The Rajya Sabha is likely to take up the income tax Act amendments on Wednesday. It’s a ‘money Bill’ and the Rajya Sabha can at the most recommend changes to the Bill.
At the parliamentary party meeting in the morning, the PM said the income tax Act amendments weren’t about turning black money into white but to ensure that money “looted from the poor” is used for their welfare. He said this garib kalyan, or welfare of the poor, is his policy from Lok Kalyan Marg, the location of his official residence which was recently renamed from its earlier Race Course Road.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the money recovered through this scheme would go towards electricity generation, roads, toilets and education. Modi also appealed to party MPs to encourage people to move towards a ‘less cash economy’ by adopting online payments.
Shah also asked party MPs to motivate traders in panchayats, municipalities and other local bodies falling in their constituency to shift to cashless transactions. Shah said the opposition’s misinformation campaign has more longevity in the rural areas and stressed on the need to counter it.
Power Minister Piyush Goyal also made a presentation on mobile and internet money transactions, which included details on how the revenues of civic bodies have increased after ‘note ban’. The party also congratulated Maharashtra and Gujarat chief ministers and state unit party chiefs for the good performance in elections to the civic bodies.