Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched a veiled but scathing attack on the Congress over corruption in development funds, asking which was the "hand" that reduced every rupee of government money to 15 paise before it reached the beneficiary.
Addressing a public rally in Ujjire near Dharmasthala, a temple town in Dakshina Kannada, Modi also took a dig at the opposition for its criticism of demonetisation aimed at making the economy less dependent on cash, saying even parents limit cash given to their children because it spoils them.
Without naming Rajiv Gandhi, Modi recalled that a former Prime Minister had said that from every rupee sanctioned by the government, only 15 paise reached its beneficiary in a village.
"One of the Prime Ministers had said every rupee is reduced to 15 paise when it reaches a village after getting sanctioned from Delhi. Which 'hand' reduces the rupee?" he asked, in a sarcastic reference to the Congress election symbol.
He said this was not the case with his government that was committed to devote every rupee and every resource for the welfare of Indians so that fruits of development reached the beneficiaries without any scope of corruption.
Modi said cash currency had always been changing from stone coins, rubber coins, gold and silver coins in the economic history of the world and now it was the time for digital currency in the world. "India cannot lag behind."
Beginning his address in Kannada, the Prime Minister, at the event organised by the charitable trust of the Sri Kshetra Dharmastala Rural Development Project, gave away RuPay cards to the Self Help Groups enrolled for Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and launched their digitised cashless transactions.
He said such self-help groups, who have pledged to conduct their businesses cashlessly, have answered all those who spoke against demonetisation, questioning how was it possible to become cashless in a country where the poor and less literate have no digital connectivity.
"But today, you have answered them. Aren't our women in rural areas educated? Twelve lakh people have pledged to make their businesses cashless. When your intentions are good, even obstacles can speed up your work. You have sown the seeds of digital India, less-cash society. I congratulate you," Modi said.
"Even parents limit cash to their children because they think it will spoil them. That is why self-accountability is very important."
He urged people to use Bhim App and embrace cashless transactions in the "era of honesty and integrity" where there "is no place for those who cheat the system".
The Prime Minister urged farmers to conserve water and work with the motto "one drop, more crop".
"By 2022, when India will celebrate 75 years of independence, can all the farmers take a pledge to cut down the urea use by 50 per cent? It will be a great service to the earth and will save farmers' money."
He said water conservation was a major challenge in the current days of global warming. "We need to give importance to living in harmony with nature and not think about short term gains."
Modi urged Karnataka farmers to take up the methods of drip and seaweed irrigation methods that can help in soil and water conservation.
Modi arrived in Karnataka in the morning to take part in various public functions. He landed at the Mangaluru airport and flew to Dharmasthala in a helicopter and prayed at the Manjunatheshwara temple in Dharmasthala, about 100 km away from Mangaluru. Due to his visit, the temple administration restricted public entry till 2 p.m. on Sunday.