New Delhi/Kolkata/Lucknow: With millions grappling with demonetisation blues, a combative Narendra Modi on Monday defended the action as one which has brought "sound sleep" to the poor and unnerved the corrupt even as his rivals made a common cause against him, terming his remarks as "insult" to people.
As a belligerent Prime Minister sought to rally public support for the contentious measure, hailed and reviled by his supporters and opponents, the demonetisation exercise saw many of his political rivals come together on the issue, with some even alleging BJP leaders had prior information about the impending decision.
Pummelling the Congress and other parties which are criticising demonetisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the corrupts were upset while the poor were "enjoying a sound sleep" after his decision and urged people to bear some inconvenience to root out graft.
"After demonetisation, the poor are enjoying a sound sleep while rich are running from pillar to post to buy sleeping pills," Modi said as he tried to rally public support in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, picking up from where he left yesterday in his speeches laced with emotion and aggression in Goa and Belagavi.
"Don't mislead people...I want to ask Congressmen who claim people are facing problems how you turned the entire country into a jail for 19 months by imposing Emergency," he said addressing a rally in Ghazipur, adding it was done only to save the seat of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi after the Allahabad High Court verdict against her, and not out of any concern for the poor.
He said there was no dearth of money for development, but the fact was that money was stashed away somewhere else and not where it should have been.
The November 8 decision of the Modi government, however, brought a fractured opposition together on the issue barely a couple of days ahead of Parliament's winter session with representatives of seven parties-- Congress, TMC, JD(U), RJD, CPI, CPI(M) and YSR (Congress)--discussing the matter. The SP, BSP and AAP, which have strongly criticised the government on the demonetisation issue gave the meeting a miss, besides DMK, AIADMK and NCP.
Mamata Banerjee's TMC has even decided to meet President Pranab Mukherjee on November 16, the day Parliament session starts, to highlight the "crisis" situation.
It was, however, not clear if other parties will join TMC in the delegation to President. The leaders of these parties are likely to meet again tomorrow when representatives from Mayawati's BSP and some others are expected to be present, according to CPI national secretary D Raja.
The Congress accused the Modi government of unleashing "economic anarchy" and "tax terrorism" in the country and called for unity among opposition parties.
"Whatever may be the differences, political parties should not shy away from voicing the concern of the people so as to address the grievances," party's chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said soon after the meeting of the opposition parties.