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HT Leadership Summit CNN-News18 Exclusive: Modi says ready to pay ‘political price’ for demonetisation

Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a host of issues from demonetisation, GST, development schemes to how India today is perceived by foreign nations as compared to a few years ago. The theme of the summit is ‘The Irreversible Rise of India’.

Making his inaugural address, Modi began by talking of his visit to the summit two years ago. “Within two years, we are today talking about ‘The Irreversible Rise of India’. It is reflective of the development taking place in the country,” he said.

He claimed that the citizens today have adopted a positive attitude. “If we look at the country as a living entity, the positive attitude today was never there earlier. The citizens of our country believe in themselves now.”

“In 2014, people voted to change the nation, the system, not just a new government. After so many years of Independence, the system’s weaknesses were hindering our development.

People had to struggle and fight against this system,” Modi said adding that the government is committed to remove this struggle be it to buy a bus ticket, get a passport, get electricity etc.Speaking of 2014, when the BJP-led Centre came to power, Modi said he received a broken system as inheritance. “In 2014 when we came to power, what did we inherit? The economy, governance, fiscal order, and banking system was in shambles. Our country was counted among the Fragile Five,” he said.

 “How long will our citizens fight? We aim to provide a corruption-free, citizen friendly ecosystem,” said the prime minister.

Narendra Modi also reiterated that he was willing to pay the “political price” for reforms like demonetisation and GST

Modi lauds GST, demonetisation, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan

Apart from the above, Modi also spoke at length about how demonetisation, GST and various development schemes launched during his term have benefitted India.

“You cannot change a country with the wave of a wand. This doesn’t mean we just sit idle. This approach will stop us from being innovative, taking risks. That is why, our government’s approach is different,” said Modi.

Speaking about the Jan Dhan Yojana, Modi said it brought about far-reaching changes in the poor man’s life. “Earlier, a poor person was shooed away from banks, but now, they have their own bank accounts. Think of the poor man who has a bank account and Rupay Card – think about his confidence. Similarly, the Ujjwala Yojana has forever changed the lives of women, who have not just got a free gas connection but also got more time for their families and to look after their health,” he said.

On the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Modi said, “No matter what people show on TV, people know that the Swachh Bharat scheme has brought about an irreversible change in the country.”

He fiercely defended demonetisation and claimed there has been a shift in the attitude of people post- 8 November last year. “People voted us to create a new India, to remove the corruption. Post-demonetisation, there has been a shift in the attitude of people. Those with black money have a fear of being caught. That which was earlier a part of the parallel economy is now a part of formal economy,” he said.

“Along with money, evidence of black money has also crept into the banking system. On one side, the poor struggled to open one bank account and on the other side, there were companies which opened thousands of bank accounts,” Modi further added.

On GST, Modi said it fixed the weaknesses within the system and ushered in an era of transparency. He also said the Centre’s next big move against corruption and black money would be to use Aadhaar to clamp down on benami properties and transactions.

India is a force to reckon with globally

Emphasising on India’s progress on the international arena, Modi said, “Today, where globally India stands, countries, large or small, want to be work with India. India is constantly increasing its influence on the international stage. It has to keep moving ahead.”

Pointing out Dalveer Bhandari’s election to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) recently, edging out his British opponent, Modi said it showed where India stood globally. “Election to the ICJ is proof of India’s development on a global stage,” he said.

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