Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday visited some banks and ATMs to take take stock of the grim situation that has gripped the city following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to demonetize Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes.
The Chief Minister visited three banks on Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Ashutosh Mukherjee road and Sarat Bose Road in South Kolkata and talked to the customers and the staff.
She also interacted with the harried customers queuing up before ATMs.
Banerjee listened to the woes of the customers, many of whom had lined up before the cash dispensers from early in the morning.
When customers told her that the banks were unable to give Rs 100 denomination notes, Banerjee told them to insist on the same. "I know you need the Rs 100 notes, because the Rs 2,000 notes won't solve your problems. You refuse the Rs 2,000 notes and ask for Rs 100 notes," she told people.
Entering the banks, Banerjee asked the officials how they were tackling the rush. When they pleaded they don't have the requisite cash stock to meet the demand, Banerjee said: "Ok, I understand your problem. Let me see what I can do."
An angry Chief Minister later lashed out at the Centre.
"The decision has been taken without prior planning. The plight of the people is due to the hasty decision by the central government," Banerjee told reporters.
"Some people are standing for four-five hours. All are common people. There are youth, employees, shopkeepers, housewives, students, self-employed people, and I don't see them having black money. This is a black policy of the black government," Banerjee said.
"There are no 100 rupee notes so from where will the banks give. All of a sudden so many people have been left in the lurch; I have not seen such bad days before," the Chief Minister said on her way back to the car.
Soon after her visit, Banerjee in a series of tweets reiterated her demand to withdraw the "draconian decision" of demonetization of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes announced by the government on Tuesday.
"Visited many public/private sector banks, 50 ATMs in Kolkata. People complaining. No 100/50 Rs. After hours in queue people only receive a Rs 2,000 note...How will they use this one 2,000 note for all daily needs? Total chaos, anger," she tweeted.
"Commoners worst hit by hasty decision. Getting worse every hour. Withdraw this draconian decision in public interest. Take strong action against black money launderers."
"50/100 rupees in short supply. Take strong action against those really corrupt. Do not harass the commoner. The public tension is understandable," Banerjee said on her Twitter handle.
ATMS that were slated to dole out cash from Thursday midnight, have not been able to live up to the government's promise. Many ATMs did not open on Thursday and Friday as the needed changes in the system to accommodate the new currency notes were yet to be incorporated, and lack of new notes was also an issue.
On Friday, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi stood in a bank queue in New Delhi to withdraw Rs 4,000, according to the new demonetization rules, and to send out a strong political statement to the Central government on the hardship being faced by common people.