Top leaders of political parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress, the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party are at the helm of the top 10 district central co-operative banks where the largest number of demonetised notes were exchanged, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday. Older Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were demonetised on November 8, 2016.
The newspaper accessed the records of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, or NABARD, after filing a Right to Information query.
According to NABARD, 370 such cooperative banks in the country exchanged demonetised notes worth Rs 22,270 crore between November 10 and December 31, 2016, of which 18.82%, or Rs 4,191.39 crore, was processed by the top 10 banks. Four of these banks are based in Gujarat, four in Maharashtra and one each in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka.
The highest amount of demonetised notes – worth Rs 745.59 crore – was exchanged at the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, one of whose directors is Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah. The notes were exchanged within five days of the government’s announcement of the note ban. The bank has filed criminal defamation complaints against Congress President Rahul Gandhi and party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala for alleging that it is a national-level scam.
The second bank on the list is Rajkot District Cooperative Bank, headed by Gujarat minister Jayeshbhai Radadiya. The bank had exchanged demonetised currency worth Rs 693.19 crore. The Pune District Central Cooperative Bank, with Rs 551.62 crore, is at third spot. It is headed by former Nationalist Congress Party MLA Ramesh Thorat. Congress leader Archana Gare is its vice-chairperson and NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar is one of the directors.
Many of the cooperative banks that topped their respective states are controlled by politicians, mostly from parties in power. In Tamil Nadu, the cooperative bank in Salem saw the most amount of demonetised notes – Rs 162.37 crore – being exchanged. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader R Elangovan chairs the bank.
In West Bengal, the Nadia District Cooperative bank topped the list with Rs 145.22 crore. Trinamool Congress leader Shibnath Chowdhury heads it. Similarly, the district cooperative bank in Khargone, which topped in Madhya Pradesh, is chaired by BJP leader Ranjit Singh Dandir. Old notes worth Rs 113.23 crore were exchanged there.