It is shocking that much of the Opposition in Parliament and even two constituents of the ruling NDA — the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal in varying degrees — have arrayed themselves against the Narendra Modi government’s demonetisation move to flush out black money and weed out counterfeit currency. One is left wondering whether it is just political expediency that defines their obstructionist role. Do the leaders have their own axes to grind and do they have a stake in the perpetuation of the parallel economy which has been wreaking havoc in the country for decades?
Clearly, this Opposition onslaught is opportunistic politics at its worst and is worthy of the strongest condemnation. It appears that national interest does not count for anything in these parties or their leaders’ scheme of things. Negativity rules the day for them and personal interests of their leaders subordinate national spirit.
Prime Minister Modi’s credentials on integrity and probity in public life are impeccable. Only a pastmaster in melodrama like Arvind Kejriwal and a politically naïve leader like Rahul Gandhi can question the prime minister’s intent — to lead an all-out assault on the parallel economy, make counterfeit currency worthless overnight and plug the channels through which terror is being funded in India. Only those who are on the side of the anti-national forces serving their interests wittingly and unwittingly can call for a rollback of demonetisation and a public apology by the country’s prime minister for announcing it.
True, the country could have done with better preparation and planning so that the common man was not inconvenienced and people were not subjected to hardship on account of the withdrawal of a hefty 85 per cent of the currency notes in circulation without adequate replenishment. The scale on which the remedial action was required was massive indeed and the people must forgive the Modi government for some degree of mismanagement considering the longer term picture.
Can’t a few days of hardship be borne for the larger cause of cleansing the economy of the cancers of black money, counterfeit currency and the mind-boggling corruption in the country? Can’t our representatives in Parliament stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the government in reassuring the people that ultimately, the country will benefit hugely from the measures that the government is taking? Perhaps that is too much to expect from those who thrive on selfish interests.
Modi is by no means a weak man. But in the aftermath of demonetisation, he was impelled to say in an emotionally-charged speech in Goa that some political forces were out to kill him and that he would not succumb to their pressure. This is symptomatic of the uphill battle he is confronted with. In these circumstances, he deserves the complete support of the people to prop him up in doing good for the country.
Indeed, the prime minister has asked for a mere 50 days to set things right but let us not think that he has a magic wand.
For a long time now, the Congress, the main opposition party and a virtual pocket borough of the Nehru-Gandhi family, has lost its will and the capacity to think independently. It is a picture of sycophancy and is steeped in deep-rooted corruption. That is a tragedy for the country as much as for the party. When it was in power, it was knee-deep in scams that were unravelled by a spirited media. So deeply embedded were the corrupt elements that today the powers-that-be in that party are making a desperate effort to sabotage all economic reforms that could strike at the root of their affluence.
Some other parties allied with the Congress or those like the Trinamool Congress, which stand firm on their own feet, are equally affected by the politics of opportunism and expediency. They hate the guts and gumption of Modi and mock his unimpeachable integrity and simplicity. One prominent politician from Uttar Pradesh set people gasping when he said recently that the prime minister must defer demonetisation for a week, which was read as the time he feels he needed to convert his stockpiles of notes into white money by hook or crook.
In fact, there are any number of clandestine syndicates working overtime to make such conversions of black money on a stupendous scale, much of it with the active connivance of foreign channels. The Modi government is indeed pushing hard on all fronts to plug the leakages but it is no cakewalk to circumvent the designs of those who have spent seven decades overturning the system and feathering their own nests at the cost of the nation.
That there is a surfeit of politicians and even bureaucrats among those who are bleeding the economy dry is a hard reality with which Modi will have to contend.
In drawing room discussions, the elite loves to take on the government for sparing its own men, but the future will be a revelation. There can be little doubt that Modi can take on such forces only if there is massive public support. That is the least that people can do for the country.
We have in Modi a man for whom the country is his family, and for whom money is no lure. He works tirelessly without making a show of it. Yet, Rahul Gandhi had the temerity to say that he was laughing when people in queues were dying for a paltry sum of their own money in banks.
Parliamentarians must realise that if the Modi government succeeds in its mission to substantially reduce black money in the economy, they will be scrutinised with a fine-tooth comb by their electors. National interest demands that they support the drive against black money and the sooner they realise this, the better it would be for their future.