NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday struck an emotional note as he launched a strong defence of the decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes+ , casting it as a fight against the few corrupt+ .

“I left my home and everything for the country. Whatever I have done, I have done with complete honesty and for the benefit of the people,” Modi said as his voice choked and he struggled to contain his emotions.

“I also feel the pain but bear it till December 30 to straighten things. After that, I’m ready to face any punishment meted out by the people in any square,” Modi said after laying the foundation for a new international airport at Mopa in Goa.

His impassioned plea, which he repeated while addressing a big crowd at Belagavi in Karnataka, came amid growing reports of inconvenience to people because of cash being in short supply in the wake of the two high-value notes being cashiered. It provided a glimpse into Modi’s high stakes in the radical decision. He said it was part of the people’s fight against “corrupt numbering just a few lakhs”.

The PM was combative when he declared that the resistance from opponents+ was not going to deter him. “They thought that if they pull my hair, I will stop and do nothing. I will not be cowed down and will not stop taking measures even if you burn me alive,” he said, casting the issue as a fight between 1.25 billion people and a handful of corrupt.

Taking on his critics, Modi said, “Some people have used the same yardstick to judge me which they used to weigh actions of the previous government. They should have changed their weighing scale after I was elected to power, especially because I made my intentions clear. Let them do whatever they want to do. I know, they will destroy me.”

Asserting that he would continue his fight nonetheless, Modi said, “It is very easy to advise but difficult to implement.”

He took a dig at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for queuing up to convert scrapped notes. “Not long ago, mega scams, including the allocation of 2G spectrum and coal blocks, were the order of the day. Now the same people are having to join the queue to convert Rs 4,000,” the PM said.

“I am surprised that Congress is asking why I have withdrawn currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. We did not say anything when you stopped circulation of 25 paise coin. You could dare to stop only 25 paise, but you could not dare to suspend higher denomination notes. We did it,” the PM said.

Modi claimed the scheme had received massive support and people were gladly putting up with hardship.