Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday termed the Reserve Bank of India’s decision of not allowing cooperative banks to exchange demonetised notes as “completely illogical and irrational” and “yet another assault by the Centre on the poor and farmers”.
“The ban appeared to defy any logic or sane reason, like several other senseless decisions taken by the Modi government in recent months,” he said. Punjab farmers deposit their earnings from agriculture mainly in these cooperative banks. The concessions announced by the government for farmers today will not go far in resolving the crisis caused by the restrictions on cooperative banks, Amarinder said further.
“It is yet another assault on the poor and farmers who are finding it difficult to survive in the face of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s irrational and unplanned demonetisation move,” he said.
He extended his party’s support to the farmers protesting the Centre’s move under the banner of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) and All India Kisan Coordination Committee.
“The ban will completely break the back of the rural community in Punjab, already reeling under a massive cash crunch, particularly when the sowing season is on,” Amarinder claimed. “How will the farmers buy seeds, fertilisers when they cannot exchange or deposit the Rs 500, Rs 1000 notes lying with them?,” he said. “Does Modi expect these farmers, many of whom are under heavy debts, to take more loans to tide them through these times? In any case, who will give them loan? The regular banks are themselves barely able to cope with the after-effects of demonetisation,” Amarinder said.
District cooperative banks do not have large coffers to handle the sudden crisis triggered by demonetisation. The latest restrictions by RBI can lead to closure of many of these banks, which have for long been the financial lifeline of the poor in Punjab, and rural areas in the country, he claimed. “The unjustified decision to stop them from accepting the demonetised currency notes will push the rural community to the brink of unprecedented disaster,” he said. On government saying the cooperative banks did not have trained staff needed to distinguish real notes from fake, he said the government should have tried to strengthen the infrastructure and capabilities of these banks instead of bringing them on the verge of collapse.
“Instead of penalising or punishing the corrupt rich, the whole demonetisation affair seems to be targeting the poor, who are finding it difficult to carry on in the absence of cash to meet their day-to-day needs,” he said.