Kerala CM to protest against Centre’s decision on cooperative banks

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 17 (IANS) Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan along with his Cabinet Ministers will stage a dharna before the RBI office here on Friday to protest against the Centre’s decision to sideline cooperative banks in Kerala.

Addressing reporters here on Thursday, Vijayan said the Centre is taking a very wrong stand against cooperative banks in the state.

“These banks have been totally sidelined and this is the banking sector of the common man,” said Vijayan.

The Reserve Bank of India, acting under the instructions of the Centre, decided to withdraw the facility to accept and exchange the spiked currencies, which was given to primary cooperative banks .

The cooperative banking sector in Kerala is a three tier system including about 1,600 primary cooperative banks attached to the 14 district banks, that are linked to the apex body — Kerala State Cooperative Bank (KSCB).

These banks together hold about Rs 1,70,000 lakh crore in deposits, with almost half of these deposits owned by the primary cooperative banks.

The state unit of the BJP has been going hammer and tongs against the cooperative sector as these primary societies do not have to follow the RBI guidelines while accepting deposits.

On Thursday evening, a delegation led by former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy called on Vijayan and expressed their full support to the state government in its efforts to support these cooperative banks.

“We have asked the state government to ensure that some sort of guarantee is given to the depositors who wish to withdraw their money from these primary cooperative banks and the state government has responded positively,” said Chandy.

The state leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has gone on record saying that Rs 30,000 crore in these primary cooperative banks is black money.

“Now that the Congress-led opposition and the ruling LDF have decided to work hand in glove, it clearly shows that they support black money. There cannot be separate banking rules for Kerala,” said lone BJP legislator in Kerala assembly O. Rajagopal.

Vijayan has called an all-party meeting including BJP on Monday to discuss the issues faced by the cooperative banking sector.