Facing opposition onslaught, the government on Wednesday put up a strong defence in Rajya Sabha on demonetisation, saying the step was taken in national interest to end corruption and black money, which it is said is also used for terror activities in the country.
Power Minister Piyush Goyal, who spoke on behalf of the ruling side after Congress leader Anand Sharma slammed the government, rejected as baseless the opposition charge that there was "leakage" of the decision and said everyone was taken by surprise which is why there are "initial" problems.
"There is no politics in it. It is a step taken in national interest," he said, adding the step will help the country in the long run.
"If anyone has the strength to take on black money and corruption, it is the BJP government and Narendra Modi," the minister said.
He claimed that common people are out in support of the government's move which is aimed against graft and terror and that the step will lead to curbing inflation and tax rate may come down.
Goyal claimed that the country has welcomed this initiative of the Modi government and it is natural that some people who have black money and are indulging in corruption and blackmoney are worried about it.
"Desh me imandaar ka samman hua hai aur beimaan ka nuksaan hua hai, (The honest have been honoured and the dishonest have faced losses)," he said.
"I am confident that public is understanding the initial problems because the decision was kept a secret. No honest tax-payer will lose a single rupee. The loss will be of those who have amassed wealth through corruption and black money and the public should also support the government in the move," he said.
Goyal said some pain and difficulty in the implementation of such a decision is inevitable but despite that the people have strongly supported the move.
He urged all the parties to support the move so that the House gives a message to the country that all are against corruption and black money.
To Sharma's charge that those questioning the government are labelled as anti-national, he said, "Understandably if someone opposes it (demonetisation), questions will be raised on whether they are against ending the menace of corruption and black money in the country."
Taking a dig at the opposition, he said, "We thought all political parties will support us in Parliament. But for some reasons they have opposed the move. It seems they are worried due to the large public favouring it and supporting the government despite the problems being faced by them."
Goyal also said BJP has already put out its poll expenses on the website and after this step all will think before indulging in corruption and black marketing.
Photograph: Mukesh Gupta/Reuters