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A parliamentary panel on Thursday decide to call Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel to appear before it again on May 25. The move followed former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s insistence that Patel should tell the standing committee on finance how much money had come back to banks after demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1,000 notes in November. He added that they wanted to know about the RBI’s preparedness for the government’s digital money push.
The issue was discussed at the panel’s meeting that senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily chaired to discuss corporate governance. BJP MP Nishikant Dubey questioned the rationale behind calling Patel again. But the panel members from Congress, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) insisted on calling the RBI governor. They argued that Patel had not answered all the panel’s questions.
Sources said that Dubey, who other members including his party colleague Shivkumar Chanabasappa Udasi supported, argued that the discussion on demonetisation had been completed. He added that calling the RBI governor again would give the impression that officers were being “unduly harassed”.
BJP members insisted that demonetisation was over, and remonetisation was a continuing process. Thus, they said, calling Patel again on demonetisation would not serve any purpose. However, Singh and other members strongly opposed this argument.
Singh, who had at an earlier meeting of the panel come to Patel’s rescue and saved him from tough grilling, said that the discussion on demonetisation was yet to be completed. He added that Patel should be called as the panel had earlier decided to call him again. Singh is learnt to have said that Patel did not tell the panel during his earlier appearance on January 18 as to how much money had come back to the banks after demonetisation.
BJD’s B Mahtab and TMC’s Saugata Roy supported Singh. Mahtab is learnt to have said that the panel needed to be told in detail about the real purpose of demonetisation, the whole process and the RBI’s role in it. He said that when Patel had appeared before the panel on January 18, most of the questions were unanswered. Mahtab recalled that Patel had said that counting of all the money deposited would take time.