Panaji: In face of concerted opposition attack and the people's impatience with the long queues at banks and ATMs that are the fallout of the currency ban, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave an emotional response on Sunday, saying people had entrusted him to fight corruption and he was ready to do it and face the consequences.
- PM Modi counters opposition attacks over ban on old banknotes
- Forces up against me, may not let me live: PM Modi
- Feel the pain of people, they have 50 days to replace old notes: PM Modi
Asking the people to give him 50 days to weed out black money, he sought people's support, saying his life was at risk owing to his war on corruption and black money.
"I know the forces up against me, they may not let me live... they may ruin me because their loot of 70 years is in trouble, but am prepared," the Prime Minister said at a function in Goa.
Since Tuesday, when PM Modi announced the scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes as a strike against black money and terror funds, the response had been largely positive. But since Friday, as ATMS started running out of cash within hours and people waited for half-a-day at banks to exchange cash, the impatience mounted.
Insisting that he felt the "pain" of the people, PM Modi said the steps taken "were not a display of arrogance. I have seen poverty and understand people's problems."
Getting emotional, he further added, "I was not born to sit on a chair of high office. Whatever I had, my family, my home...I left it for the nation..."
The ban on high denomination currency, the Prime Minister underscored on Sunday, was a move to counter black money.
"People voted me in to fight corruption. Shouldn't I do it?" he questioned. "We took a key step to help the honest citizen of India defeat the menace of black money. If any money that was looted in India and has left Indian shores, it is our duty to find out about it."
The Congress call PM Modi's remarks "theatrics". "PM should give up theatrics and think hard how to improve the country's direction," Congress leader Anand Sharma said.
Earlier the Prime Minister had said the people should have patience with the currency ban, which can be their "contribution towards nation-building".
The move, however, has drawn intense criticism from the opposition. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has called it a "huge scam".
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, another fierce critic of the ban, said that she was willing to work with arch rival CPM to "save the country".