Prime Minister Narendra Modi
In picture: Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Twitter/Doordarshan News

Hours after former union minister Arun Shourie blamed demonetisation for the economic slowdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday claimed that the scrapping of high denomination currencies was a big success in dealing with black money and corruption. He also played down the recent fall in the GDP growth. 

GST, demonetisation take a toll; ADB downgrades India's 2017 growth forecast to 7%

Demonetisation a success

PM Modi was addressing the Golden Jubilee Year celebrations of Institute of Company Secretaries of India at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. He chose the occasion to defend demonetisation and also to reply to critics who decried his government's economic policies.  

Modi hailed the note ban and claimed that it rang the death knell for black money and corruption. The demonetisation proved that the country could run normally with less cash, the prime minister added. 

Arun Shourie had alleged that the demonetisation was the "biggest money-laundering scheme ever." Former finance minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha had also come down heavily on the economic policies of the Modi dispensation. 

Without naming anybody, in particular, Modi snapped at the critics saying that there were some people who won't get good sleep unless they spread the "feeling of pessimism all around." "We need to recognise such people," he added. 

Modi on fallen GDP

Referring to the fall in GDP, PM Modi said that it was not the first time that India's GDP had fallen to 5.7 percent. There were 8 instances during the reign of the previous governments when GDP was at or below 5.7 percent, he pointed out.

He took a dig at the previous UPA government and said that under the leadership of Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram, India was not in G-8 or G-20. It was in the "fragile five", he stated.

The prime minister brushed aside criticisms over GDP figures and said that low growth in one quarter was not a big issue and assured that the GDP would increase in the upcoming quarters.

"I assure that the steps being taken by the government will put the country in a new league of development," said Modi while stating that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has predicted 7.7 percent growth in the coming quarters.

Roads, railways have developed

People cross a railway track in front of an arriving train on a foggy winter morning in Allahabad in this November 30, 2016, file photo. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash

Modi claimed that road and rail infrastructure in the country developed like never before under the NDA government. The period saw the construction of  34,000 km stretch of National Highway when compared to the 15,000 km NH built by the previous government, he said.

He also pointed out that NDA government, in just three years in power, has laid down new railway lines more than double the length constructed during the UPA regime. The new railway lines would stretch over 2,100 km, Modi claimed.