<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hours before the world bursted into celebrations to welcome the New Year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a slew of measures for farmers, urban poor and small entrepreneurs, indicative of his attempts to remove the tag stitched to the BJP of being a party of businessmen (baniya) and corporates.Though not big-bang sops, he announced subsidised housing loans for the poor and incentives for senior citizens and women. In a much-anticipated televised address, Modi continued his streak of addressing the poor, a symbolic rebuttal to the ‘suit-boot’ analogy, and Opposition jibes of being pro-rich. His sops may be seen as ones meant to lure voters ahead of the crucial Uttar Pradesh election, the schedule of which will be announced soon.Thanking the people for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the government in the fight against black money and fake notes by supporting the demonetization drive despite hardships, he called demonetization a cleansing ritual of historic proportions.In a 43-minute-long address, he that said India has gone through “a major purification drive” to release it from the grip of corruption and black money. Reciting from Iqbal’s famous verse Kooch Baat Hai Ki Hasti Mit Ti Naheen Hamari (There must be something special that we still exist), he drew parallels between the people’s patience while standing in queues and the patriotism shown by people in the 1962, 1965 and Kargil wars.Modi sought to explain the rationale behind demonetization, black money retrieval, action against hoarders, and assured that the poor and the marginalised will not be left out. Immediately after the speech, Opposition parties said that they were waiting to listen when the queues will end and also wanted to know how much black money has been unearthed. Highlighting patience, discipline and the resolve of people, the PM mentioned Lal Bahadur Shastri, JP Narayan, and Ram Manohar Lohia and Kamraj that they would have blessed people.Stressing that there was a need to punish the culprits and help the honest, he said that just 24 lakh people have declared that they had incomes of Rs 10 lakh and above. Modi said that all concerned in the banks have been told to focus on reducing the inconveniences caused by curbs on cash withdrawals. He, however, did not say when the restrictions will be lifted.Expressing confidence that the New Year would see lesser queues outside banks and things would be normal, Modi said that banks have never before seen this sort of influx of cash, and he would like to see banking personnel focusing on helping the middle class and the poor.He said that the note ban has seriously affected black money and terror-financing. He asked banks to break from traditional practices and prioritise their lending to the poor and vulnerable sections. He also asked political parties to come together to free politics of black money and corruption. “We cannot allow this fight against black money or corruption to slow down,” he said. He said that the time has come for a serious debate on breaking the endless cycle of elections and cutting down on administrative expenses by holding Parliamentary and Assembly elections simultaneously.
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