Banerjee accuses Modi government of discriminating against Bengal

Kolkata, Nov 19 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the Centre on Saturday of discriminating against her state by not sending Rs 500 denomination new currency notes to alleviate the sufferings of cash-strapped people.

Banerjee said while the Rs 500 denomination notes had already been given to BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Bengal has been ignored.

“I have no problem if they dole out such notes to Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, but they should give the notes to Bengal also. This is discrimination,” Banerjee said outside the Reserve Bank of India office here.

Accompanied by party MP Derek O’Brien, Banerjee went to the RBI office, summoned its officials and wanted to know details of currency notes in their stock.

She asked them to furnish the information to her on the spot while she “will wait” there.

After about 40 minutes, RBI’s Regional Director Rekha Warriar gave her the information.

But when Warriar told Banerjee that the new Rs 500 notes had arrived only on Friday and were being dispatched to banks on Saturday, the Chief Minister remarked: “That means not a single one of them have been given to people of my state so far.”

“Now you are saying you are sending. But will the notes reach people after there are more deaths?” she questioned.

The Chief Minister also visited parts of the Burrabazar wholesale market — one of the largest in Asia — and listened to the plight of the traders.

“Businessmen are forced to shut down. There is no availability of money,” she said.

“Paid surprise visit to Asia’s biggest market, Burrabazar. I went to Burrabazar market today to listen to the people. Listened to problems of hawkers, traders, mazdoors, shopkeepers, commoners. All expressed deep anguish,” she tweeted.

“All caste, community, creed spoke about the big problems they are facing. They are saying since last 10 days, everything is down to almost zero. Very sad situation,” she said on the microblogging website.

Banerjee said Burrabazar represents the entire country as its traders and businessmen have their roots in various states, especially Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab.

“People cannot access their savings account. This is being restricted. Is their money safe? The country wants to know,” she tweeted.

Earlier, interacting with mediapersons, Banerjee raised questions about the country-wide income tax raids which have accompanied the demonetisation move.

“I have no objection to IT raids. I am on the side of law. But I have one query. If the notes (of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations) have been cancelled, how is the money being counted as legal or illegal? Valid or invalid,” she said.

–IANS

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