New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the November 8 demonetisation was "not a politically motivated move", adding that he pitied a few of his opponents, especially in the Congress.
In an interview to India Today magazine, excerpts of which were telecast in text form on India Today TV, Modi took on his predecessor Manmohan Singh`s reference to "organised loot" during the latter`s speech on demonetisation in Parliament and said it must have been in the context of his own (UPA) government.
The Prime Minister said he would not have taken the decision to scrap old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes if he was guided by short-term electoral politics.
"I pity a few of our opponents, especially the Congress leadership, for the desperation they have been exhibiting. Congress leaders are entirely preoccupied with only one thing -- elections. There is nothing political in the demonetiastion," PM Modi said.
He said it was interesting that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a well-known economist, called demonetisation a "monumental mismanagement".
"Regarding Manmohan Singh ji, it is interesting that the words `monumental mismanagement` came from a leader who has been at the helm of India`s economic journey for around 45 years," Modi said.
"His refereence to organsied loot was perhaps a reference to the unending string of scams under his leadership... from the coal to 2G and CWG (2010 Commonwealth Games) scams. Demonetisation, on the other hand, is an unprecedented step to consficate the loot of the corrupt," he said.
Manmohan Singh, participating in a debate on demonetisation in the Rajya Sabha, called demonetisation a "monumental management failure" and "a case of organised loot and legalised plunder".
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The debate in the upper house could not be concluded amid disruptions, and the winter session was an almost washout.
The Prime Minister said: "It was a tough decision taken to clean our economy and our society. If I were guided by short-term electoral politics, I would have never done so."
In the interview, aired on the eve of expiry of the December 30 deadline to deposit demonetised currency in banks, the Prime Minister urged citizens not to regard digital transactions as a short-term substitute for cash payments.
"Digital transactions should not be viewed as short-term substitute for cash payments," PM Modi said.
"Digital transactions facilitate formal accounting and sizing of the economy," he said.
"They also deliver greater tax compliance," he added.
In the wake of demonetisation, the government announced a series of measures to promote digital payments to move towards an economy making less cash transactions.
"Digital payment is a way of cleaning the economy in the long run," the Prime Minister said.