Opening a new front in the fight against black money, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said people who were forced or tricked into depositing other people’s money into their bank accounts may be allowed to keep the entire sum for themselves.
“Do not touch that money,” Modi said, addressing a rally in UP.
“I am exercising my brain to come up with a plan to send the person who deposited their money into your account to jail and the money to you.”
According to anecdotal evidence, many people with funds that they cannot account for have forced their employees or less-aware persons around them to deposit part of their money into their account.
“We have trapped them… now we need to make sure they don’t escape,” Modi said, adding that the government will soon come up with a scheme to confiscate or transfer such money to the person who was used to deposit the amount.
Modi said people should not feel guilty about taking such money from black money hoarders. “This is not a favor to you.. this is the money that rightfully belongs to you, money that they made through cheating and other illegal means,” he said.
It is likely that the government will allow anyone who deposited others’ money to keep the entire sum if that person reveals the true source of the funds.
That way, the government will be able to prosecute the person under the newly passed Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, while rewarding the person who led them to the criminal suitably.
It has already imposed a monthly limit of Rs 10,000 on withdrawals from Jan Dhan accounts.
However, it remains to be seen how practical such efforts will be, as many of the people who have deposited money on behalf of black money holders are dependent on the latter. Many of these people are direct employees or relatives of the person to whom the funds belong.
“PEOPLE SUPPORT DEMONETIZATION”
Modi also attacked the opposition and others who expected people to criticise him over the inconveniences faced by them after the withdrawal of 500- and 1000-rupee notes.
The BJP won a surprising number of seats in the just concluded local body elections in Maharashtra and Gujarat, belying oppositions’ hopes that the ongoing problems associated with the swapping of currencies would act as a dampener on BJP’s poll prospects.
On the contrary, the demonetization move seemed to have added to Modi’s popularity and the prime minister has been quick to seize the opportunity to project himself as the true guardian of the common man’s interest.
“Some reporters have come to me and said we go to the field hoping to get angry reactions from people, but we find such people who have been in the queue for hours, but still don’t have any angry words to say… The reason is that they have understood that the intention behind the move is good. They have understood that this is an honest effort.”
The prime minister said the people have stood strongly behind the demonetization move because it has given them hope.
“Earlier, when a school demanded that Rs 5,000 be paid for admission officially and Rs 50,000 unofficially, an average middle class person had no option but to comply…
“The country, as such, favored honesty, but didn’t have an option. This time, they’ve decided that this is a fight that can be won.”