'Their vote bank has shifted to the BJP; the Congress is yet to realise it.'
Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar tells Sanjay Jog that while the Bharatiya Janata Party is changing the country, the Congress is changing old notes.
The Congress, he says, will be reduced to 4 seats in the Lok Sabha if it continues to follow party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi's line.
Why did Prime Minister Narendra Modi choose to address a Jan Sabha and not the Lok Sabha on demonetisation?
He was there, he wanted to speak.
With an irresponsible Opposition there cannot be a rational argument.
The PM was ready to speak and fully prepared.
On the last day of the winter session, at the parliamentary party meeting, the PM gave the two best examples from history on demonetisation.
When senior Congress leader and then Union minister Y B Chavan proposed the measure to then PM Indira Gandhi, she asked him, 'Do you want the party to stay out of the contest?' (Editor's note: First revealed in former home secretary Madhav Godbole's column on Rediff.com)
The intention of the Congress was clear: It did not want to implement demonetisation, only to distribute money and come to power and, thereafter, to earn money and distribute it again to retain power.
The PM also referred to the non-implementation of the Benami Property Bill passed during the United Progressive Alliance regime: The rules were not framed nor were they notified.
This clearly shows the Congress' lip service to the anti-corruption drive.
Besides, it was the BJP-led government that took the decision first to form a special investigation team against black money.
But the Opposition has blamed the PM and the ruling party for the washout of the winter session.
It is a fact that the winter session was a washout, but it happened because of the recklessness of Opposition parties.
For a democracy to survive, you need a responsible Opposition and a responsive government. We were responsive while the Opposition was irresponsible. Therefore, the session got washed out.
This is undemocratic -- negating the people's mandate. If you don't respect that and do not allow the government to work, then this is the end of democracy.
After that, on the last day the Opposition pretended to do some work.
There is a chronology to it. In the Lok Sabha, the Opposition said it wanted discussion under a voting rule.
The people have voted and elected us. We have a majority. So how could the situation have been different on the floor of the House?
That was an irrational demand and therefore we said, 'start the discussion.'
Thereafter, in the Lok Sabha, Telangana Rashtra Samiti member Jitender Reddy started the debate, but those in the Congress and other Opposition members did not allow him to speak.
This has never happened before.
This is rowdyism, goondaism and irresponsible behaviour.
Then, when there were new revelations in the AugustaWestland chopper deal -- that a political family has received Rs 115 crore (Rs 1.15 billion) as bribe -- we wanted to discuss that.
However, the Congress and the Opposition were not prepared. They neither allowed the ruling party to hold discussion on other issues nor did they participate in the debate on demonetisation.
This was again, irresponsible behaviour.
In the Rajya Sabha, the Opposition debated on the first day and realised that people, by and large, were not supporting them.
Besides, they had nothing to offer; there was no logic to what they were saying.
Thereafter, the Opposition started disruption, demanding that the PM be in the House all the time.
When the PM came, they said he should apologise. They kept changing their demand.
If the Congress continues to follow Rahul Gandhi's line, from 404 Lok Sabha seats after the 1984 elections and now down to 44, they will be reduced to 4 in the next election.
BJP members of Parliament have expressed concern about the inconvenience caused to the people because of lack of availability of currency notes of small denominations.
We must salute bank officials and employees -- they have done a laudable job.
There might be a few branches where things have gone wrong, but steps are being taken to put more and more notes in circulation.
All four printing presses have been pressed into service 24x7 to print more currency notes, especially in small denominations.
Some MPs also warn that the BJP may find it difficult to win the assembly polls if the situation does not become normal soon.
The BJP will win the polls because of Modiji's leadership and the track record of the government and the party.
Demonetisation is too big a step; it has not been done to win polls.
It is for the benefit of the whole country.
People are adapting to demonetisation; they are with us.
Demonetisation will not hamper the BJP's poll prospects in any way.
As far as the Congress is concerned, its USP was the poor, but the party has already lost them.
The poor have come to us. Their vote bank has shifted to the BJP; the Congress is yet to realise it.
A sting operation by a news channel showed that the All India Congress Committee had become the 'All India Currency Conduit,' involved in changing old notes and charging 40 per cent commission.
Hum desh badal rahe hain, woh note badal rahe hain (We are changing the country, but the Congress is engaged in changing old currency). They have been exposed.
What are the efforts being made by the government and the party to reach out to the people?
The HRD ministry has launched a digital financial literacy campaign. In just 4 days 100,000 college and university students have joined.
I am sure that ultimately 2.5 million trained students will spread the message of digital payments.
There will be batches of trainers in every college. Students will convert 10 families each to the digital mode, teach them how to open an account, help them get an Aadhaar card and tell them how to link it to an account and how to link a mobile phone to an account.
These are prerequisites for the digital transition. The Aadhaar-based payment system will catch up in the next two months.
Other ministries are taking similar initiatives on the digital transition. The party will give training to the rank and file.
We will concentrate on 500 cities with population of 100,000 and above: 70% of cash transactions happen there, while the remaining 30% take place in 600,000 villages.
Are the days of tax raids and inspector raj back?
No. Modiji is against inspector raj.
He wants to do away with it as he wants to bring all transactions into the banking system, which would be tracked.
Will the new income declaration scheme with stringent penalties be the 'last window' for people with unaccounted wealth to come clean?
It is not a second income disclosure scheme, but the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana where you pay 50% tax upfront and 25% without interest-term deposit, so that the government can use that money for various programmes and you can keep only 25%.
However, that is not a cover for corruption money.
You have to make a distinction between undisclosed wealth, corruption, tax avoidance and corruption money.
Tax avoidance can be addressed by this, not black money.
Is the government still optimistic about the launch of the goods and services tax despite a wider rift with the Opposition?
The GST will happen.
States have recently released advertisements on GST registration for traders.
The winter session was an exception, but the next session will be a meaningful one.
If the Congress continues to play disruptive politics, it will not be trusted.
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IMAGE: Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah had a meal with a Dalit family in Jogiyapur village in the Sevapuri assembly segment in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, June 2016.