Glare on DeMo stash in bank linked to Shah

The Congress on Friday called for a thorough investigation into post-demonetisation deposits following revelations that a cooperative bank associated with BJP chief Amit Shah received Rs 745 crore in scrapped notes before these banks were barred from accepting them.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 23.06.18
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BJP president Amit Shah. (PTI)

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday called for a thorough investigation into post-demonetisation deposits following revelations that a cooperative bank associated with BJP chief Amit Shah received Rs 745 crore in scrapped notes before these banks were barred from accepting them.

Replies by the National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (Nabard) to queries filed under the Right to Information Act reveal that many other cooperative banks linked to senior BJP leaders had also received high deposits.

Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala declared on Friday that Rahul Gandhi's contention - that the November 8, 2016, demonetisation drive was independent India's biggest scam - had been vindicated.

Rahul, too, lost no time in taking a dig at the BJP chief. "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! Millions of Indians whose lives were destroyed by demonetization, salute your achievement," the Congress chief tweeted in the morning.

The Congress released the list of banks linked to BJP leaders that got the deposits, according to the May 7 RTI reply to queries filed by Manoranjan S. Roy, a Mumbai-based information activist.

The Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, whose directors include Shah and his close associates, had received Rs 745.58 crore in scrapped notes - the highest among all 370 district cooperative banks in the country - in the first five days after conversions began on November 10, 2016.

District cooperative banks were banned from accepting the scrapped notes after November 14 on the ground that black money would be laundered through this route.

Shah had been the bank's chairman earlier, and his party colleague and aide Ajay Patel now heads it. Another close associate Yashpal Chudasma, whose name had appeared in the controversy related to his son Jay Shah, is another director.

No other bank among the 370 district co-operative banks across the country had received such a big sum in five days.

"Whose money was this?" Surjewala asked. "We had asked the government to bring out a list of all those who deposited more than Rs 25 lakh just before demonetisation or soon after that. Why was that not done?"

The Congress leader alleged that some people had advance knowledge of the demonetisation plan. "We know how the BJP purchased land and properties in many states just before demonetisation. Many BJP leaders were caught with new notes. There is a need for a thorough probe. It is not a political or partisan demand. It is linked to the credibility of the Prime Minister as so much evidence creating suspicion is on the table," Surjewala said.

Surjewala said the RTI replies showed 11 district cooperative banks in Gujarat, all headed by BJP leaders, had together received old notes worth Rs 3,118.51 crore between November 10 and 14, 2016.

No. 2 on the list was the Rajkot District Cooperative Bank, which received old notes worth Rs 693.19 crore. Its chairman Jayeshbhai Radadiya is a cabinet minister in the Gujarat government. His father Vitthalbhai Radadiya, a prominent BJP leader and former MP from Porbandar, is a director in the bank.

The Surat District Co-operative Bank received Rs 369.85 crore in scrapped notes. Its director is the BJP's Bardoli MP, Prabhubhai Vasava, while Nareshbhai Patel, a prominent BJP leader, is the chairman.

The Sabarkantha District Central Cooperative Bank Ltd received Rs 328.50 crore. Party leader Maheshbhai Patel is the chairman. BJP MLA Rajendrasinh Chavada and former minister Praful Khoda Patel are directors.

The Banaskantha District Central Co-operative Bank Ltd received Rs 295.30 crore. BJP leader M.L. Chaudhary is the chairman and former BJP minister Shankar Chaudhary a director.

The other banks are Mehsana District Central Co-operative Bank Ltd (Rs 215.44 crore in banned notes); Amreli Jilla Madyastha Sahkari Bank Ltd (Rs 205.31 crore); Bharuch District Central Co-operative Bank Ltd (Rs 98.86 crore); Baroda Central Co-operative Bank Ltd (Rs 76.38 crore); Junagarh Jill Sahakari Bank Ltd (Rs 59.98 crore) and Panchmahals District Co-operative Bank Ltd (Rs 30.12 crore).

Surjewala said Nabard's replies had shown that states ruled by the BJP and its allies/supporters had got the lion's share of deposits in district cooperative banks - Rs 14,293.71 crore out of Rs 22,270.80 crore (64.18 per cent).

He added: "In September 2016, bank deposits in scheduled banks saw an unusual spurt of Rs 5.88 lakh crore (compared with the corresponding period in other years). Out of this, fixed deposits made between September 1 and September 15, 2016, alone were over Rs 3 lakh crore. Does it not prove advance knowledge of the decision of demonetisation and conversion of money?"

Not unusual: Nabard

Nabard issued a statement on Friday to say the deposits in the Ahmedabad bank were in line with its size and that all KYC norms were adhered to.

"Of the total 17 lakh accounts with the Ahmedabad DCCB, deposits or exchanges were made only by 1.60 lakh customers, a miniscule 9.37 per cent of the total deposit accounts," Nabard said in a statement.

The statement, which focused on the bank in which Shah is a director, also said more demonetised notes were deposited in district cooperative banks in Maharashtra than in Gujarat, followed by Kerala. PTI