Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the demonetisation move has been taken to empower the poor. Modi, who was addressing the audience in Uttar Pradesh’s Bahraich via phone after his helicopter was unable to land because of fog, said the decision to denotify Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes had been taken to target the people with black money. “Big people are being arrested. This is a government of the poor and works for the poor,” NDTV reported him as saying.

He further urged the people to move to mobile banking. “I am addressing you through mobile. You can turn your mobile into your bank. You have to learn it slowly,” he added.

On the almost complete washout of the Winter Session, Modi blamed the Opposition parties that have been “discarded by the people” for stalling the proceedings. “We are ready for a debate [on demonetisation] but we are not being allowed to present our view point by those very parties that have been discarded by the electorate,” he added.

The prime minister said Uttar Pradesh will progress only if it can do away with “poverty and gunda raj”. He took a dig at Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, saying that both have been facing a tough time because of demonetisation. “Everyone is fed up of this lawlessness… you will have to throw out those backing these gundas. And the Bharatiya Janata Party will do that,” said Modi.

This was Modi’s fifth Parvartan rally in Uttar Pradesh in the run up to the Assembly election in the state. Earlier, he addressed rallies in Ghazipur, Agra, Kushinagar and Moradabad, and the next is scheduled in Kanpur on December 19. Uttar Pradesh will go to polls early next year.

In a bid to tackle black money, counterfeit and corruption, the Modi government demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes on the night of November 8. The Reserve Bank of India has since introduced Rs 2,000 currency notes and a new version of the Rs 500 note. The Centre has received flak from the Opposition since this decision was made. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his Rajya Sabha address on November 24 described the move to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as a “monumental management failure” and said it would reduce the country’s GDP by 2% or more.