Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday sought to trash Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s charge that the Centre was helping big corporates and the rich, insisting that his government was focused on working for the poor.

He asserted that demonetisation had, in one stroke, destroyed black money, terror funding as well as human and drug trafficking.

Targeting parties opposing the ban on high denomination currency, Modi claimed that some people were upset as his decision had struck the “choron ka sardar (ringleader of thieves)”.

Addressing the BJP’s ‘Parivartan Maha Rally’ in poll-bound Uttarakhand, Modi said that while the UPA governm-ent’s move to raise the number of subsidised cylinders from 9 to 12 was projected as momentous, his government had given gas cylinders to five crore people below poverty line. “Eighteen thousand villagers were [practically] living in the 18th century, without electricity...[and] in thousand days, we have electrified 12,000 villages. Work on remaining 6,000 is on. Is this working for rich or empowering the poor?” he asked the gathering.

Following demonetisation, black money stashed away in cupboards and under mattresses were being routed to banks and to the people, the Prime Minister claimed, adding that he was fulfilling his duty of being a ‘chowkidar’ (watchman) to rid the country of the black money and “dark hearts” that had caused its ruin.