Demanding the immediate rollback of the move to demonetise old currency notes, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders protested outside the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Kolkata on Wednesday ahead of the bank Governor Urjit Patel’s visit to the city on Thursday. The state government has been relentless in its attack against the Centre and the RBI for the demonetisation of higher denomination currency — Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. Earlier, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had led the Opposition march in Delhi demanding a rollback.
After attending a central board meeting of the apex bank, Patel is expected at the Secretariat at around 3.30pm, said sources.
A source confirmed, “He is likely to meet the CM on Thursday afternoon. However, the meeting is customary and was fixed much earlier.”
Officials said that it was customary for RBI governors to meet CM whenever he or she visits a state and a formal request from Patel’s office for an appointment with Banerjee was made. But in the past two years, the customary meeting with the Bengal chief minister did not take place during the then RBI governor Raghuram Rajan’s visit to Kolkata.
“The TMC believes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to reach out to Mamata through Patel. But at the same time, she is maintaining her political opposition to the demonetisation move, while ensuring that her constitutional mandate as CM is not diluted. So she will meet Patel and discuss issues, but politically, the opposition will continue,” said a senior TMC leaders.
Mamata, however, showed no sign of relenting. On Wednesday, she tweeted: “It’s shocking that CentralGovt is ruthlessly discriminating against Bengal & its toiling teagarden workers by starving them of cash wages. While giving cash from RBI to BJP ruled state of Assam for tea garden workers. While both states started a similar payment model, suddenly Bengal’s payments were cut off end of November. Our workers are starving. I demand RBI restore payments by (our government through) DMs (immediately) & continue till 03-17. Our hungry teagarden workers (are) dying due to NoteBandi.”
Outside the RBI, meanwhile, senior TMC leaders, including education minister Partha Chatterjee and MP Subrata Bakshi, led the party protest.
“We will continue our protest until the draconian
decision of demonetisation is withdrawn. We will organise a similar protest-rally tomorrow also. India is a democracy and Modi can’t bulldoze his anti-people decision on the entire country,” Chatterjee said at the the rally.
“After the first half of the Assembly session, we left the Assembly and reached the RBI to join the agitation,” added Nirmal Majhi, TMC MLA.
Sources in the government maintained that following the RBI board meeting, state chief secretary Basudeb Banerjee will likely meet Patel and take him to the state secretariat. “This is an opportunity for Banerjee to put on record, the issues that Bengal has faced following demonetisation,” explained an official from the chief minister’s office.