Congress to protest at RBI offices in 2nd phase of anti-demonetisation stir
Supporters of the Congress party will protest in front of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) branch offices across the country on Wednesday to protest the Centre’s decision to continue restricting weekly cash withdrawals at Rs 24,000.india Updated: Jan 18, 2017 12:39 IST
Supporters of the Congress party will protest in front of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) branch offices across the country on Wednesday to protest the Centre’s decision to continue restricting weekly cash withdrawals at Rs 24,000.
Launching the second phase of the party’s agitation against demonetisation, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “This is treachery. The RBI has become the Modi government’s captive puppet. Its autonomy has been compromised.”
The main opposition party plans to picket 25 RBI officers across the country, including Delhi. The movement will be spearheaded by senior party leaders such as its working committee members, general secretaries, state unit presidents and legislative party heads.
Pointing out that 70 days have passed since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the scrapping of high-denomination currency notes on November 8, Surjewala said, “Failure to restore the cash supply has paralysed India’s economy, leading to massive loss of jobs and closure of businesses on a daily basis.”
The party spokesperson alleged that the RBI had been reduced to being a mere post office that follows the diktats of the Modi government, instead of “playing the role of an independent monetary regulator and key denominator of economic growth”.
Surjewala has been deputed to handle the party’s agitation in Mumbai. While Anand Sharma – the Congress’ deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha – will lead the protests in Delhi, former Union ministers Kapil Sibal and Sushil Kumar Shinde will handle the movement in Dehradun and Ahmedabad respectively.
The Congress wants to make the note ban a key issue in the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur. The party had launched the first phase of the agitation on January 1, concluding it with a day-long convention at Delhi’s Talkatora stadium on January 11.
Surjewala then went on to allege that “the destruction of the autonomy and integrity of institutions – essential for preserving the country’s democratic fabric – has become a sine qua non (an essential condition) for Modi’s unitary style of functioning”.
The Congress leader said the need of the hour was to ensure the complete restoration of money supply, fixation of responsibility for the “demonetisation mess”, and permitting people to withdraw their own hard-earned money from bank accounts.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has been at the forefront of attacks against the NDA government, bringing several opposition parties together on the demonetisation issue.
In response to the BJP’s complaint to the election commission over his remarks linking the Congress’ symbol – the hand – with various religious figures, Gandhi tweeted on Tuesday: “Dear BJP, daro mat (don’t be scared).”
The ruling party had asked the poll body to freeze the Congress’ election symbol in this connection.
Last month, the Amethi MP described demonetisation as the “single-biggest arbitrary decision” in the history of the world. He claimed that the move, taken by a single individual (Modi), had affected the lives of 1.3 billion people.
The Congress vice-president also alleged that he has information on “personal corruption” by the Prime Minister, and said there would be an “earthquake” if he was allowed to speak on demonetisation in the Lok Sabha.
Gandhi has sought steps such as compensation to state governments by the Centre for any loss of revenue caused due to the move, besides income tax and sales tax rebates of 50% to small shopkeepers and businesses. His others demands included doubling the number of guaranteed work days and wage rate under MGNREGA for a period of one year, besides providing Rs 25,000 to women of BPL families affected by demonetisation.