Thiruvananthapuram: The bonhomie between arch rivals CPI-M and Congress party in Kerala against the Narendra Modi government’s decision to “sideline cooperative banks” following the demonetisation move, appears to be falling apart with differences of opinion cropping up in the Congress.
The Reserve Bank of India had earlier this month withdrawn the right given to the cooperative banks to accept or exchange the spiked 500 and 1,000 rupee notes.
The cooperative banking sector in Kerala is a three-tier system, with about 1,600 primary cooperative banks attached to 14 district banks, which are further linked to the apex Kerala State Cooperative Bank (KSCB).
Following this decision, a pall of gloom descended on the state, especially in the rural areas, where the cooperative movement is strong.
On Thursday the two parties expressed their desire to work together with a special one-day assembly session called for Tuesday to discuss this issue.
But on Saturday, state Congress president VM Sudheeran said that a joint protest cannot happen.
“The CPI-M in Kerala is doing what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done. In all those cooperatives where the CPI-M is not ruling, they are trying to use power to dissolve it. The protest should happen in Delhi and for that an all-party delegation from here should go to Delhi,” said Sudheeran addressing a meeting on Saturday.
Incidentally a delegation comprising former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala and their allies called on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday to express their support to the state government and would be part of any move to fight unitedly against the Centre’s move to “wreck” the cooperative sector in Kerala.
Adding to the confusion in the Congress party, its vice president M.M. Hassan on Saturday came out with another argument that the stand of the CPI-M towards the cooperative banks is hypocritical.
“CPI-M politburo member from West Bengal, Mohammed Salim, has written to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to say that in his state black money is being deposited in cooperative banks by the Trinamool Congress. So the CPI-M should take action against Salim first. They are taking a different position here and this is nothing but double standards on the same issue,” said Hassan.
Chennithala, reacting to the sudden turn of events, said the party-led United Democratic Front is meeting on Sunday when a final decision would be taken.
The second biggest ally in the UDF – Indian Union Muslim League — differed with Sudheeran. IUML general secretary KPA Majeed told reporters on Saturday that the main issue is that the cooperative sector will be wiped out due to demonetisation, and the need of the hour is to see that such a thing does not happen, and for that whatever needs to be done has to be done.
The state unit of the BJP is up in arms against the cooperative banks in the state as the primary cooperative banks do not have to comply with the RBI guidelines when it comes to accepting deposits. The BJP has alleged that in these banks which hold deposits in excess of Rs one lakh crore, more than Rs 30,000 crore is unaccounted money of politicians from the two parties.