In an interview with ANI on the first day of the new year, PM Narendra Modi denied there was any political pressure on Urjit Patel to resign as RBI governor
New Delhi: Breaking his silence on Urjit Patel’s resignation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor had urged the government to consider his resignation for months, and that there was no political pressure on him to quit.
“The RBI governor himself requested (to resign) because of personal reasons. I am revealing for the first time, he was telling me about this for 6-7 months before his resignation. He even gave it in writing. He wrote to me personally. No such question (of political pressure) arises. I acknowledge that Patel did a good job as RBI governor," Modi said in an interview with ANI news agency.
Patel resigned on 10 December, four days ahead of an RBI board meeting, citing personal reasons. He has not made any public statement since then.
Modi’s statement could, however, also mean that the differences between the RBI and the centre were simmering for months before deputy governor Viral Acharya made it public with a controversial speech on 26 October, in which he said the risks of undermining the central bank’s independence could be potentially catastrophic. Subsequently, Acharya’s comments drew flak from the government.
The PM’s statement comes a day after finance minister Arun Jaitley told Parliament that the composition of the expert committee to suggest how the central bank should handle its reserves, and whether it can transfer its surplus to the government, was finalized when Patel was still the RBI governor.
This is, however, contrary to the belief that the composition of the high-level committee headed by former RBI governor Bimal Jalan for examining the economic capital framework was finalized and a compromise to have a vice chairman in former RBI deputy governor Rakesh Mohan in the panel was arrived at after Shaktikanta Das took charge as the RBI governor on 12 December.
The centre’s insistence on giving the RBI board a greater say in the day-to-day functioning of the central bank was also a contentious issue.