Senior Congress leaders today staged 'RBI gherao' protests outside its offices in several states as part of the party's anti-demonetisation stir during which ex-Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde was detained in Ahmedabad and police resorted to lathi charge in Nagpur.
The leaders, who were joined by scores of Congress workers, also demanded the resignation of RBI Governor Urjit Patel for the "failure to maintain RBI's autonomy" and for the problems being faced by people following the note ban announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8.
In the national capital, the protesters led by Congress MP Ahmed Patel, party's deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma, DPCC chief Ajay Maken and P C Chacko tried to march from Jantar Mantar to RBI's regional headquarters in Parliament Street but were stopped by police. They alleged that the central bank has "failed miserably" in handling the situation post-demonetisation.
"The government cannot stop people from withdrawing their own hard-earned money. We are lodging a protest to tell the government and the RBI that the ceiling on withdrawal limit be lifted," Chacko told reporters. "Congress workers staged similar protests in other cities in the country today," he said.
Shinde and Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki along with nearly 130 party workers were detained by police for trying to lock down the RBI's regional headquarters in Ahmedabad. The Congressmen were detained by police when they tried to gherao the RBI and lock it down, alleging that the bank has failed on all fronts to address the woes of common man after the Centre announced demonetisation of high value notes in November last year.
While Shinde, Solanki, and 90 others were detained by Madhavpura police on the eastern end of Gandhi Bridge in Ahmedabad, around 40 Congress workers were detained by Vadaj police from outside the main gate of RBI on the western end. "We gave them permission for their gathering only, not for holding rally till RBI on the other side of the bridge. Madhavpura police have detained Shinde, Solanki and 90 others while trying to take out the rally. They will be released later," Assistant Commissioner of Police Arpita Patel said.
In Mumbai, state Congress president Ashok Chavan accused the Modi government of converting the RBI into a 'RSS shakha' and demanded resignation of Urjit Patel for throwing the lives of 125 crore Indians into a disarray with demonetisation. "We held a gherao protest at RBI in Mumbai, on behalf of MPCC and MRCC," Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters. He accused the Modi government of trying to make RBI a "branch of BJP and RSS".
In Nagpur, Congress workers were lathicharged by police during their demonstration in front of the RBI office even as a morcha led by former Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan demanded the resignation of the RBI Governor.
While a delegation led by Prithviraj Chavan went inside the RBI to submit a memorandum, some Congress workers outside the office raised slogans and the situation became tense. Some party workers alleged that the police lathi-charged them. A few Congress workers were also detained and to protest the police lathi-charge, some party leaders later staged a sit-in dharna in front of the RBI office.
The Haryana and Chandigarh units of Congress held a protest near the RBI's regional office in Chandigarh against the central bank's "failure to carry out its constitutional duty at the time of demonetisation", but were stopped by police when they tried to gherao the building.
Led by former Lok Sabha Speaker and former union minister Shivraj Patil, slogan shouting Congress workers took out a rally from the Odisha state party headquarters in Bhubaneswar to the RBI office, dubbing demonetisation as a "surgical strike" on the poor people, farmers, labourers, small traders and middle class. Leaders of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee demonstrated in front of RBI office in Guwahati.
Led by APCC president Ripun Bora, AICC general secretary C P Joshi and other party leaders, Congress members attempted to break the security barricade to cross the RBI gate.