Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday lashed out at the alleged “Congress culture” of stalling projects and keeping them pending, and said his government had taken steps to end it.
He was speaking after inaugurating the 107 km Bidar- Kalaburagi railway line, built at a cost of Rs 1,542 crore. The project was conceived in 1994.
“The Congress’ work culture is atkana (hinder), latkana (delay) and bhatkana (mislead) to stall projects. You will get thousands of such projects in India that get started to reap political mileage but later get stalled,” Modi said.
The delay in implementing the projects led to cost overruns and the previous government was to be blamed for this “criminal negligence”, he alleged.
“If we have to move forward we have to end this work culture. We have taken steps to do away with it. We have given importance to time-bound work culture,” Modi said.
Modi also reaffirmed his government’s commitment to fighting corruption.
“We are fighting corruption. The Congress has become insensitive. I was surprised that when in Gujarat there were floods, Rajya Sabha election was also going on in the state,” he said.
“When people were dying in floods, fields were getting washed away and farmers were in distress, all their (Congress) legislators were enjoying in Bengaluru. At the same time a minister’s house was raided by Income Tax (department) and bundles of notes were recovered,” he alleged.
Gujarat Congress MLAs were in Bengaluru during the Rajya Sabha polls in August, in which Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel faced a tricky battle but managed to scrape through.
The party had claimed that they were brought to the Karnataka capital to prevent the BJP from poaching them.
Modi’s reference to the IT raid related to Karnataka Energy Minister D K Shivakumar.
He also said people of the country would not forgive those who run their businesses with “bags filled with notes”.
Such people now feel they have been looted due to demonetisation and that they are now in distress, he said.
“You will be surprised that due to demonetisation the notes that got deposited in banks… we kept track of where they have come from. Three lakh bogus companies that we have come to know of were involved in hawala and each company used to have 1,000 bank accounts,” Modi said.
“Despite our shutting these three lakh companies, no one burnt Modi’s effigies,” he said.
The prime minister said officials were working with the help of technology and it was found that there was dishonest business of about Rs 4,000 crore in 5,000 of the three lakh shell companies.
“This money belongs to the country’s poor and honest citizens. I cannot allow it to be looted, so I’m in this fight,” he said.
On the Goods and Services Tax, Modi said all state governments were part of decisions related to it and its implementation was a collective decision of all parties.
The trading community had not opposed the GST and accepted it. It only complained about shortcomings. They brought it to the government’s notice and it had to be set right, he said.
“I want to tell the trading community that you give suggestions…my government functions with an open mind. We are ready to make all improvements.”
Modi said he had also told the bureaucracy that an environment of honesty prevails in the country.
Earlier, there were many traders who did not issue bills.
Now they are saying that they do not want to do it and will work by the rules, he said.
“They fear that if they follow law and rules, officials will question them about their earlier trading history… I want to assure the trading community that no official will open your old office (files). Those who want to move forward for the country, they will be given full protection,” he said.
“Earlier some things might have happened, but if they now want to walk the right path, they are welcome. They will be given protection…It is the government’s duty to support them,” he said.
“I want to tell all small and big traders, if still any official troubles you, write me a letter. I will fight for you,” he said.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah skipped the function as he had earlier made known his displeasure over being invited at the last minute. He, however, deputed a senior cabinet colleague.
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge also stayed away for idential reason.