The Indian National Congress on Friday demanded a probe into reports suggesting that notes worth Rs 745.58 crore were deposited in Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, where BJP chief Amit Shah is a director, within five days of Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing demonetisation on November 8, 2016.
However, just before the Congress made the demand, 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 the western state of Gujarat. NABARD, or National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, is the country’s apex financing agency for institutions that promote rural development.
“We expect the prime minister 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,” Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala told reporters.
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 were only 15 per cent of the total deposits of the bank.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (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.
The Congress accused Modi of having “choreographed” demonetisation to benefit scamsters to convert their black money and dubbed the decision as independent India’s “biggest scam” that allowed scamsters convert their black money into white.
In a tongue-in-cheek tweet, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi congratulated Shah for being the director of a bank that won the 1st prize in the 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!
“Millions of Indians whose lives were destroyed by demonetisation, salute your achievement,” he said on Twitter.
He also used the hashtag “ShahZyadaKhaGaya” along with a picture of Shah, which was also used by the Congress on its social media handles to hit out at him.
Addressing a press conference, Surjewala, the Congress spokesman, said while people suffered in queues, scamsters converted black money to white.
“PM choreographed the DeMonetisation, leaving out window for black money hoarders to benefit. Nineteen months post-Modi Made Disaster’ of Demonetisation, it is now officially clear that this entire exercise was the biggest scam in Independent India, indulged to convert its ill-gotten Black Money’ into White’!,” he said.
He also alleged 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 the five days after demonetisation.
“It is time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah to answer. Will Prime minister Modi hold a probe against Amit Shah, his party MPs and ministers , he said.
The NABARD statement said that of the total 17 lakh accounts with district cooperative banks, deposits and exchanges were made only by 1.60 lakh customers, which is 9.37 pc of the total deposit accounts.
Of these less then Rs 2.5 lakh were deposited in 98.94 pc of accounts in which deposits/exchanges were made and out of the total accounts with the bank, it was only in 0.09 pc accounts where above Rs. 2.5 lakh were deposited.
The NABARD also said that demonetised notes presented in the DCCBs of Maharashtra were higher than those deposited in Gujarat, followed by DCCBs in Kerala.
The rural bank also said that the Ahmedabad DCCB, with total business levels of over Rs 9,000 crore, is one of the top ten DCCBs of the country and was recently awarded for the best performance by the Federation of the Cooperative Banks.
It also said that the bank has a total of 194 branches, the highest among all the DCCBs of Gujarat and its deposit base of Rs 5,330 crore is also the highest among all the banks of Gujarat.