Prime Minister Targets UPA Over Black Money, Says ‘There Was an Attempt to Save Somebody’

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NEW DELHI: Targeting the previous UPA government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said it had not formed a Special Investigation Team or SIT on black money because there was an attempt to “save somebody” and rejected suggestions that his dispensation was threatening the Opposition on the issue.

In his hour-long reply to the motion of thanks to the President’s address in Rajya Sabha, he spoke about the issue of black money over which questions are being asked from his government about what has been done since last nine months.

“I believe that the dream of bringing black money would have been possible by now had an SIT been formed in 2011 when the Supreme Court had asked for it. That time the SIT was not formed because there was an attempt to save somebody,” he said.

PM Modi rejected Congress leader Anand Sharma’s charge that the government was threatening the opposition in the name of revealing the names of those having black money accounts. He said he does not hold such a mindset of threatening others as it has never worked in a democracy and will never work. He said the law should be allowed to take its own course.

PM Modi recalled how threats of sending him to jail were issued when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat.

“Nobody’s threats work. Threats have neither worked in a democracy nor they can. For 14 years in Gujarat, I used to get letters, threats of sending me to jail every day. I knew what games were being played,” he said.

He said would not like to say anything more on this as he believed that this will come out some day when the history is written.

Hitting back at Congress, PM Modi reminded how threats were used against the opposition during the period of Emergency. “Everybody knows who has the character and language of intimidation. Everybody knows what excesses were committed during the Emergency. What can be a bigger threat than this,” he said.

He asked the Opposition “not to put words in somebody’s mouth, which have not been said.”

Earlier, Mr Sharma took umbrage to Modi’s remarks in Lok Sabha on the black money issue when he had said that those having black money would not be spared and later it should not be alleged that the government was “vindictive”.

Mr Sharma viewed these comments as a threat and said his party was not afraid.

“Has anybody given an application (to be spared)? Do not issue threats. Nobody is going to be scared by such threats. Fulfill the promises that you have made,” Mr Sharma said participating in the debate.

The former Commerce Minister also said that if Congress had been scared, its government would not have signed treaties with 80 countries for bringing back black money.

PM Modi said his government believes that efforts should be made to bring back black money and the government was doing that. He listed a number of treaties signed with other countries and promised to fulfill his commitment.

Countering the Opposition’s charge that his government was pro-corporate, he listed a number of schemes initiated for the poor and said the government is moving towards serving the “last man in the row – ‘daridra narayan’ (seeing God in the poor).

“Is the Swachchhata Abhiyan for the corporates? The slum dwellers are yearning for quality of life. I talk of those poor when I talk about Swachchhata. Is the Jan Dhan Yojana meant for the corporates? This is neither for the rich nor for the corporates.

“When I talk about toilets in government schools, what does it have to do with the rich and the corporates? It is for the poor, whose children go to government schools.

“When I talk of issuing soil health cards, is it working for the rich and the corporates? Will this money go in their accounts?

“Is our Housing for all scheme meant for making houses for the rich or the poor,” he asked.

PM Modi in his speech in the Upper House also defended coal auction saying that the states have such natural resources but still remain poor and the nation will not move forward till the states make progress.

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