Demonetisation effect: RBI’s Urjit Patel faces black flags, protests in Kolkata
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel met with protests in Kolkata on Thursday, with “go back” slogans chasing him during his trip to the city.
Ruling Trinamool Congress supporters staged a demonstration in front of the RBI building when Patel was conducting a board meeting there. The Left, too, organised a protest in front of the office at BBD Bagh, the central business district of the city.
The drama reached its peak when a group of Congress supporters showed black flag to Patel at the airport when he was on his way back to Mumbai in the evening.
As soon as Patel stepped out of the car, over a dozen protesters tried to block his way. They came too close for his comfort, as the RBI boss started walking towards the entrance of the airport terminal. Securitymen accompanying him were seen pushing away the agitators.
This was Patel’s first visit to Kolkata as the RBI governor, and also the first meeting with any chief minister after the government’s decision to scrap high-value banknotes, a move that has triggered cash crunch across the country.
In the morning, Patel sneaked into the RBI building through the rear gate to avoid mediapersons. Left supporters were staging their demonstration at that time. Though the board meeting was scheduled to start at 10am, Patel arrived at the regional office much ahead of the schedule.
According to RBI officials, even senior officers in the eastern regional office in Kolkata were informed at the last moment about Patel’s plans.
RBI officials told reporters that Patel will not hold the traditional media briefing session after the board meeting, as was done by his predecessors.
When Patel reached the state secretariat at 3:30pm to meet West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who has turned out to be fiercest critic of the government’s demonetisation move, he did not speak a word to the media.
He came out at 4:30 after the meeting. “The meeting was good,” Patel said before leaving.
Banerjee, for her part, urged Patel to oppose the demonetisation exercise and shot off a letter.
“He listened to what I had to say with patience. But he remained silent and did not offer any comment of his. Probably, his silence is the admission of the validity of my arguments,” Banerjee said after the meeting.