Home >Politics >India >Kerala CM to lead a protest against centre, RBI
Pinarayi Vijayan. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Pinarayi Vijayan. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Kerala CM to lead a protest against centre, RBI

In a rare display of unity, leaders from the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front will also join the protest

A mass protest will be held in Kerala on Friday against Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) decision barring cooperative banks from exchange invalid currency notes.

The morning to evening sit down protest will be led by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his cabinet ministers in front of a regional office of RBI in Thiruvananthapuram. In a rare display of unity, leaders from the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front will also join the protest.

The unity of the two fronts makes the issue into a bipolar political battle, with both major fronts opposing the RBI and central government stand on cooperative sector one side and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alone supporting the decisions on the other. The BJP has alleged that cooperative banks in the state are working without proper checks and balances and has become sort of a Swiss bank for CPM and Congress leaders to park black money.

The cooperative banks are some of the most accessible banks to a wide range of urban and rural Keralites, and has an estimated deposit base of over 50000 crore. Local reports suggest the sector has come to a standstill as the RBI has meant they cannot exchange old notes or issue fresh notes to he customers.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, both Vijayan and opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said BJP’s stand went against the larger interests of the state. While Vijayan has alleged “a high-level political conspiracy against the cooperative banks in the state" hatched in the backdrop of demonetisation, Chennithala announced “full support to protests against RBI decision" led by the ruling alliance.

The developments come at a time when political parties from different states are protesting against the order stopping cooperative banks from exchanging demonetized notes, with some even looking to legal recourse and mass protests.

“There is no bar to conduct legal inspection if there is any black money in cooperative sector. The government is committed to protecting cooperative sector as it is a people’s area and it deals with money of the common man," news agency Press Trust of India reported as Vijayan saying on Friday.

Apart from launching a street protest, the first such after coming to power in May, the government has also invited all parties for a meeting scheduled on Saturday. Local reports suggest the meeting may take directions to hold a special session of the state assembly next week, to pass a resolution against the Centre and the RBI if the issue is not resolved by then.

Meanwhile, BJP said the decision to hold a dharna before RBI by chief minister and his ministers was ‘inappropriate’ as the Centre was implementing a “bold decision", as per website of regional newspaper Mathrubhumi. The report adds that BJP state president Kummanam Rajashekarn has met governor P. Sathashivam to apprise him of the situation.

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