THE news of RBI Governor Urjit Patel’s resignation reached top Opposition leaders as they were chalking out a joint strategy to take on the BJP-led government in and outside Parliament after the results of the five state elections come in Tuesday.
From Congress president Rahul Gandhi to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, the chorus at the meeting, attended by 21 parties including the Aam Aadmi Party, was that the central government was assaulting and undermining India’s institutions, “from CBI to RBI”. And there was an urgent need to fight this.
The SP and the BSP stayed away from the meeting but the latter slammed the Government on the resignation.
Banerjee proposed that the Opposition meet again on Tuesday and raise the issue with President Ram Nath Kovind.
Patel’s shadow, Govt challenge
Urjit Patel has extricated himself from a relationship increasingly turning bitter. Forced to yield on many a critical issue at the November 19 board meeting, he decided to go down fighting before the next meeting on December 14. Clearly, private negotiations failed. His successor has the task cut out: Patel’s shadow and government aggression in a poll year. Bringing a credible face is the Centre’s challenge.
“There was consensus in the room that we have to stop the BJP’s assault on our institutions, stop the assault on the CBI, on the RBI, on the Election Commission..on all institutions.. assault on the Constitution…There was consensus…that the BJP’s corruption on Rafale, demonetisation and other areas are simply unacceptable and we are going to fight it,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi said.
“The RBI Governor has resigned because he is protecting the institution of the RBI and he is not able to function. Taking away the reserves from the RBI to save your skin…to fix the mismanagement you have done is an act against this nation,” Gandhi added.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told The Indian Express: “As a friend and long-time admirer of Urjit Patel, I feel very sad…I am sure he must have weighed the pros and cons. I can only say the development has saddened me and I have been his admirer…” he said. In a statement later, he said: “Patel’s sudden resignation, at a time when the Indian economy is faced with many headwinds is very unfortunate and is a severe blow to the nation’s economy.”
“Building institutions takes a long time and effort but they can be destroyed in a whimper. It is institutions such as the RBI, among many others that have served as the edifice of our great nation’s progress since independence…I sincerely hope that this sudden resignation of the Governor is not a harbinger of the Modi government’s attempts to destroy the institutional foundations of India’s $3-trillion economy,” Singh said.
Banerjee said there is a state of economic and political emergency in the country. “Institutions, from the CBI to the RBI, have become total disasters. This has never happened before…The BJP is behaving like a dictator,” she said.
Naidu said the fight is to “save India” and its democratic institutions. Naidu said Patel had tried his best to protect the economy. “Finally, he is unable to bear the stress and resigned. It is very bad for the nation,” Naidu added.
Yechury said the RBI governor had been pushed into a corner. “It speaks volumes of how independent institutions are being interfered with by this Modi government,” he said.”
The Opposition has decided to demand a JPC probe into Rafale fighter jet deal and demonetisation and raise issues like agrarian distress and growing joblessness, he said.
A statement issued by the parties after the meeting said: “India needs a truthful government that does not propagate falsehoods and does not make bogus claims, that steadfastly follows Constitutional values…that respects the autonomy of institutions, and that will banish the current all-pervasive atmosphere of fear and intimidation. A case in point is the sinister attack on autonomy of Reserve Bank of India by Modi government that has led to the unceremonious exit of RBI Governor today.”
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said he was saddened but not surprised. “No self-respecting scholar or academic can work in this government. Dr Patel may have thought that government will re-trace its steps. I knew it would not. Good he quit before another humiliating meeting. November 19 was the day of reckoning. Dr Patel should have resigned on that day,” he said.
(with Ritu Sarin)