The Congress has demanded a probe into reports that the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank exchanged currency worth Rs 745.58 crore within five days of Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing demonetisation in November 2016. BJP president Amit Shah was the Chairman of the bank and is currently serving as a director.
This, as per Congress media in-charge Randeep Surjewala, is the highest amount exchanged by a single district cooperative bank in the country. There are 370 district cooperative banks.
Quoting from an RTI reply received from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), the Congress said that in 11 district cooperative banks in Gujarat headed by BJP leaders, as much as Rs 3,118 crore worth of old notes were deposited within five days after demonetisation.
“We expect Prime Minister Narendra Modi will himself come forward and give answers on the charges against Amit Shah, whom he has appointed. There should be an independent time-bound probe into this entire scam,” Mr. Surjewala said.
The Congress has dubbed demonetisation as the “biggest scam” post independence that allowed scamsters to convert their black money into white.
“It is a question of accountability of the man who got elected as Prime Minister repeating the line — Na khaunga, na khane dunga (I won’t take bribes, nor will I let others take bribes ),” Mr. Surjewala added.
In a tongue-in-cheek tweet, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi congratulated Mr. Shah for being the director of a bank that won the first prize in conversion of old notes to new.
“Congratulations Amit Shah ji, Director, Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, on your bank winning 1st prize in the conversion of old notes to new race. Rs 750 crore in 5 days!” He also used the hashtag “ShahZyadaKhaGaya” along with a picture of Mr. Shah, which was also used by the Congress on its social media handles to hit out at him.
However, just before the Congress made the demand, the NABARD issued a statement saying that the average deposit amount in the Ahmedabad DCCB was Rs 46,795 per account holder, which is lower than the average per depositor in 18 DCCBs of Gujarat. The NABARD is the country’s apex financing agency for institutions that promote rural development.
The NABARD statement also said that during the period, 1.60 lakh customers of the bank deposited/exchanged demonetised notes worth Rs 746 crore which was only 15% of the total deposits of the bank.
The BJP cited the NABARD statement to say that the Ahmedabad DCCB was one of the biggest in the country and that it was not out of the ordinary for it to collect such an amount.