Congress demands RBI Governor’s resignation, gheraos RBI offices (Roundup)
New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS) The Congress on Wednesday held nation-wide protests against “poor implementation” of demonetisation and gheraoed RBI offices in different state capitals demanding restoration of the apex bank’s autonomy and resignation of RBI Governor Urjit Patel.
In Mumbai, several Congress leaders were detained from outside Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, where they were scheduled to hold demonstrations at the Reserve Bank of India office.
But they moved their agitation to the railway station after the Mumbai Police denied them permission to hold protests outside the RBI office.
“We have submitted a memorandum at the RBI’s headquarters in Mumbai. We demand restoration of the RBI’s autonomy,” Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters.
In a memorandum submitted to Governor, Deputy Governors and Central Board of Directors of the RBI, the Congress alleged that RBI’s autonomy and statutory powers have been subjugated and compromised.
“Responsibility lies at the doorsteps of RBI Governor for this erosion of credibility. RBI Governor must forthwith resign taking responsibility for the ‘demonetisation mess’ as also permitting Modi government to encroach upon the jurisdiction of RBI, rendering it as a mouthpiece of the government,” the memorandum said.
“Indian National Congress has created and nurtured the institution of RBI over decades,” it said, and demanded that “RBI’s autonomy as India’s financial regulator be restored forthwith”.
In Delhi, addressing media person, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “If I see the RBI Governor anywhere I won’t be able to recognize him as he is hardly visible in newspapers or on TV. RBI’s autonomy is lost, it has now become a rubber stamp of the Government.”
He said the demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, announced on November 8, has deeply hurt the ‘National Income’ and ‘GDP’.
Similar protests were held across the country in several cities, helmed by senior Congress leaders. Apart from Mumbai and Delhi the party leaders held protests in Bengaluru and Chennai, and also held in cities in Bihar, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Odisha, and West Bengal, among others.
Hundreds of Congress party protesters gheraoed the RBI office in Delhi with slogans denouncing demonetisation and the Centre’s role in “destruction of the RBI’s autonomy”.
The agitators vented their anger against the BJP-led government for “expropriation of power” from the central bank and termed the note ban as ‘carpet bombing’ on the country’s economy.
The protest rally to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in Delhi was led by senior party leaders Anand Sharma and Ajay Maken.
The demonstration was part of a call for country-wide protests made on Tuesday by the Congress party.
In Gujarat senior Congress leaders Shankar Singh Vaghela and former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde were detained by the police when they took to the road to voice their anger against the central government.
In Nagpur, protesting Congress activists were attacked with canes by police.
The protesters, led by former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and party leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, raised anti-government slogans against the spiking of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes and laid siege to the RBI office.
When some protesters tried to barge into the RBI building by knocking down barricades, police tried to stop them but failed.
In the ensuing lathicharge, a few Congress activists sustained minor injuries. The angry demonstrators then vent their ire on police.
Several Congress leaders, including Chavan, Vikhe-Patil and Vilas Muttemwar, demanded the suspension of policemen who caned the protesters and refused to end their agitation till action was taken.