Venkaiah Naidu hits back at Rahul on allegations against PM

New Delhi: Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday hit back at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi for accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of personal corruption, saying such “absurd allegations” were meant to “derail” the government’s development agenda and fight against corruption.

Some people feel threatened as people were drifting away from them following the steps taken by Modi government for the empowerment of the poor, Naidu said, without naming Gandhi or his party.

At a rally in Mehsana in the prime minister’s home turf, Gandhi on Wednesday accused Modi of taking money from Sahara and Birla groups when he was Gujarat Chief Minister. BJP rejected Gandhis’s allegations as “baseless, shameful and mala fide”.

And Naidu today said “in 2013, it was their (Congress-led UPA) government. What did they do? Were they sleeping?”

“Now they are trying to divert the attention and bring prime minister into unnecessary controversy. They are trying to derail the momentum, given by (Modi) to the development and fight against corruption by baseless and absurd allegations,” Naidu told reporters in New Delhi.

He alleged that previous governments did not do anything for the poor but a “lip service”, and said Modi was committed to uplift the poor.

“There are some people who are feeling threatened. They feel the poor people are drifting away from them so they are feeling restlessness and making such comments. Let them say,”he said.

Terming demonetisation as “bold and radical”, he said Modi has “struck the very foundation” of corrupt people, and allegations against the prime minister have cropped up only after the November 8 announcement about the ban on high-value currency notes.

Naidu said demonetisation has hit the parallel economy, with black and counterfeit money being used by arm smugglers, drug, child and women traffickers and Pakistan engaging in aiding, abetting and funding terrorists.

“Keeping all these things in mind, the prime minister has taken the bold and radical step. This is not the end of the story. This is one step, a right step in the right direction. Corruption will get reduced,” he claimed.

He said corruption and black money have eaten the vitals of the Indian system and described the menace as a “cancer”, which needed “chemotherapy”, that has side effects, referring to the hardships faced by the people due to demonetisation.

Naidu also underscored the importance of digital economy, saying India’s economy is currently the size of 2 trillion dollars and is expected to be 10 trillion dollars by 2030.