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Under relentless opposition fire over demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took a swipe at his critics, saying their "pain" was that they did not get a "chance for preparation" before he announced the move, even as political battle over the exercise escalated. "Some people are criticising saying the government did not make ample preparation. I think that is not the issue that the government did not make ample preparation. I think the pain of such people is that the government did not give a chance to make any preparation," he said at a book launch function in Delhi. "If these people had got 72 hours to make their preparation, they would have lavished praise that there is no one like Modi," Modi, whose demonetisation drive has united most opposition parties, said. With Parliamentary proceedings washed out for the seventh straight day today, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi dared the Prime Minister to a debate in Parliament. "The main issue is that the Prime Minister doesn't come to the Lok Sabha for discussion. The moment he comes to Lok Sabha, doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani ho jayega (everything will be clear). "The PM doesn't want to sit in Lok Sabha. We have been stopped from speaking in the Lok Sabha. What you are you scared of ?" Gandhi asked. Stepping up her attack against Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called him "a bad politician and a worse administrator who is spreading lies and relaxing even as the common people continue to suffer". "Modi ji has lost all credibility. A bad politician and even worse administrator. He is lying," she said in a statement in Kolkata. She also claimed that Rs 1.28 lakh crore had been lost forever due to the scrapping of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. Her Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, however, reaffirmed his support to demonetisation decision which he called a 'Sahsik' (brave) decision.
He said the attack on black money would have yielded better results had, apart from scrapping high-value currency notes, benami properties been targeted.
In the same breath he, however, deprecated the way in which demonetisation was carried out.
"While supporting demonetisation in principle, I, with equal force, criticise the poor arrangements for its implementation due to which common man is facing hardship," Kumar, who is also the JD(U) national president, told reporters in Patna.
Kumar, who was among the first to welcome demonetisation, said, "I am seeing a minus with plus whereas many others are seeing only minuses."
BJP chief Amit Shah, who was in Bhubaneshwar, hailed demonetisation as a "masterstroke" for black money eradication and said the opposition unity on the issue was because the parties which had come together were hit hard by the decision.
"Modiji's move on black money has made leaders like Manmohan Singh, Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal, Mulayam Singh, Mayawati and others uncomfortable. The glow on their faces has disappeared," he a BJP event.
"When there is flood, snakes and mongooses, rats and cats stay together on trees. Now, Modi's demonetisation flood has forced the leaders of the SP, Congress, Mamata, Mulayam, Mayawati and Kejriwal to take shelter under one umbrella. They are waiting for Modi's flood water (step against black money) to recede," he quipped.
Modi, who was in Punjab's Bathinda for an event later in the day, made a pitch for mobile banking to ease people's problems due to demonetisation. "You can download mobile applications provided by banks on your phones and I want to urge political leaders, teachers, youth to give training to people on mobile banking," he said. "You know because of corruption, black money, the middle class had been exploited and poor people were shorn of their rights. I want to stop it and give poor people their due rights," he said adding, "black money is eating into the country like termite." "Therefore, Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes have been banned and new notes will gradually reach (people). I am short of words for thanking people who suffer difficulties (due to demonetisation) but continue to stand in support of this work of honesty," he said. The CPI-M continued to target Modi over the exercise, with its general secretary Sitaram Yechury calling him Delhi's authoritarian ruler (Muhammad bin) "Tuglaq" who has "gone missing" after issuing the "firman" (diktat). "Barely 20-25% of cash demand being met in Metros. Rural areas even worse. While Tughlaq goes missing after his firman," Yechury tweeted. Latching on to media reports, Yechury sought to pick holes in the November 8 decision as he noted that 29 crore out of the 30 crore Rupay card holders have never used their cards in a swipe machine. Referring to a report on surfacing of two variants of Rs 500 currency notes, the Marxist leader also took a dig at Modi, saying it was the "Prime Minister's way" of stopping circulation of fake currency.