Demonetisation is meant for long-term structural transformation of the country and not for short-term gain, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told India Today. In an interview to the magazine, which was released on Thursday, Modi said the Centre’s objective for the discontinuation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes was to “clean our economy and society of the menace of black money, purging the distrust, artificial pressures and other ills that came with it”.

“This decision is so huge that even our best economists remain confused in their calculations,” Modi said in the interview. India’s 1.25 billion citizens, however, have welcomed it wholeheartedly and supported it even in the face of great personal difficulties, intuitively understanding its impact and importance.”

Cash held by militant outfits, Maoists and other extremists had been “instantly neutralised” by demonetisation, Modi added. “There has been a crippling impact on dangerous and highly damaging illegal activities, such as human trafficking, and the narcotics trade as well.”

The prime minister also criticised the Congress for its “desperation”. “On the one hand, they say I took this decision for political dividends, and on the other, they say the people have been troubled and are deeply unhappy. How can the two go together?” he asked. The government attempted to keep Parliament functioning smoothly through the Winter Session despite a “concerted effort” by the Congress to disrupt the functioning of both Houses.

The interview comes ahead of the 50-day anniversary of the move. Earlier on Thursday, it was reported that the ordinance that the Union Cabinet was believed to have passed on Wednesday will be presented to President Pranab Mukherjee for approval soon. The order, which will penalise citizens for possessing more than Rs 10,000 in demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes after March 31, 2017, will come into effect on December 31.

The prime minister’s statements also come a day before the deadline for citizens to deposit the scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Since the currency ban announcement on November 8, Modi has maintained that the situation in the country would improve after the 50-day window. Along with ministers of his government, he has promoted the benefits of a cashless economyand how the “short-term pain” would pay off for “long-term gains”, referring to the what the Centre believes will be the impact of demonetisation on black money and corruption.