Demonetisation took centre-stage in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh on Monday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hit out at each other over the note ban that has caused an unprecedented cash crunch in the country.If the high voltage battle saw Modi invoking late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to take on the Congress over its anti-demonetisation stand, Rahul Gandhi likened the currency ban to "firebombing", claiming it had taken blood out of the veins of 99 per cent of Indians. Addressing a BJP rally in Kanpur, Modi said while the government's agenda was to end corruption and black money, the opposition's aim was to derail Parliament to shield the corrupt.Even after President Pranab Mukherjee urged them not to disrupt the house, they did not relent because they wanted to avoid a debate over the November 8 ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, Modi thundered."The country is divided into two - those who are fighting corruption and black money and the other, a handful, who are shielding the corrupt," said Modi in one of his most aggressive speeches ever.He accused the Congress of "ruining the country" for the sake of political interests and ridiculed its opposition of demonetisation.
"The Congress used to hail Rajiv Gandhi for taking India to the era of computers, ushering in mobile phones. But now when we are advocating using mobile phones for banking, the Congress says the poor have no mobiles. How long will they continue to lie and mislead people?"Describing his government to be "for and by" honesty, Modi welcomed the Election Commission's proposal to ban anonymity behind donations of more than Rs 2,000 to political parties and pledged to implement measures aimed at preventing black money from infiltrating into the electoral process.Within hours, Gandhi went all guns blazing against Modi at Jaunpur and said demonetisation was actually a war against the poor. He accused the Prime Minister of giving 60 per cent of India's wealth to one per cent of the country's population."Modi has firebombed the poor," said Gandhi, referring to the World War II bombing technique."It is against 99 per cent people of India, against farmers and labourers. Without seeking their permission, Modi has taken blood out of their veins," said Gandhi, who recently had dubbed demonetisation to be a "Modi-made disaster".
Gandhi claimed the real motive behind demonetisation was to write off corporate loans and accused the Prime Minister of giving a "toffee worth Rs 1,200 crore" to liquor baron Vijay Mallya -- a reference to the loan waiver. "About 50 families in our country took Rs 8 lakh crore loan. Modi will use your money to waive off the loans of at least 50 families who have taken the loans. Members of these families accompany Modi to the US and China."You can write off the loans of the corporates. So why can't you do the same to farmers? I told him to waive off the loans of poor farmers but did not get any answer," said Gandhi, who recently met Modi. Criticising Modi for constantly changing the narrative behind the currency spike, Gandhi said the purpose behind demonetisation was to "extract from the poor to help the rich". Even as he continued to attack the Prime Minister, Gandhi urged a section of the crowd to refrain from sloganeering against Modi. "We have differences of opinion with Modi and the BJP. Do not use the word 'murdabad'... Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister," he said.