More than 90 per cent of Indians support the ban on old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes to help curb tax evasion and corruption, a survey on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s smartphone app has found. Critics, however, aren’t convinced.
But defending the survey and the big demonetisation move at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University or JNU, where some of the loudest criticism of the government has emerged in the last year, Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday not just held her own, she even earned applause.
“If you don’t want to believe the PM app survey, don’t. Just go out and speak to people. People are standing in queues but they are happy,” she said.
The minister, who was a student of JNU herself, was the first minister of the BJP-led government to visit the campus since the campus emerged as the centre of controversy in February this year where anti-India slogans were raised.
Taking questions from students, Ms Sitharaman denied that there was any negative fallout of the move.
While the opposition has been boycotting parliament till PM Modi attends the debate and the government agrees to a discussion with a vote on the issue, Ms Sitharaman slammed them saying that they were “so-called secular parties who claimed to be speaking for the poor”.
“I am sorry, but who are they to say the poor are suffering. I am not saying that those standing in line are not inconvenienced but they are all positive. It reminds me of what the Finance Minister said that when people spoke about mobile phones, then people laughed. But now, all farmers may not have smart phones but they are getting SMS updates on their accounts,” she said.
When asked about the electoral impact of demonetisation, as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that it would lead to their fall, Ms Sitharaman acknowledged that it would be a major factor.
“Yes, it is very important. We are going to go to polls and show people, this is what we have done against corruption. We have a clean heart about it. What have these people done?” she said.
Here’s an excerpt from the discussion showing Minister Nirmala slaying it over the group of JNU students :