Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Urjit Patel would have to thank former prime minister Manmohan Singh for rescuing him from a situation that could have become awkward.
Singh, according to a PTI report, helped Patel come out unhurt from from a severe grilling by the parliamentary standing committee on finance on Wednesday.
Patel, who along with other RBI and finance ministry officials appeared before the parliamentary panel, was put to some tough questions by members, sources in the committee told PTI.
He could not reply to questions like when normalcy would be back in the banking system and how much of demonetised currency was deposited during the 50-day window.
Before further grilling could start, Singh, who made a forceful speech against demonetisation in Rajya Sabha calling it a "monumental failure and organised loot", intervened to say that the central bank and the Governor's position as an institution should be respected.
He should not be put to odd questions, Singh, who himself was RBI Governor once, is believed to have told the Committee.
According to a report in The Economic Times, Congress members of the panel notably Digvijay Singh, asked Patel whether there will be a run on banks if the cash withdrawal limits are revoked.
The report, citing members in the committee as a source, said Manmohan stepped in at this point and told Patel that he need not answer this question.
Why did Singh do this?
Definitely it is not that he has changed his stance on demonetisation. A renowned economist and a former central banker, Singh has been scathing in his attack on the note ban exercise.
In the Rajya Sabha, he had termed it a monumental mismanagement and warned of a 2 percentage point hit on growth. "It is a case of organised loot, legalised plunder of the common people," he had said.
Recently, he again warned that the worst impact of the whole scheme is yet to come.
Major Memon, NCP member told ANI: He came to the rescue of RBI Governor to respond to certain queries which probably he may have been finding difficult to do. So, this is just a human helping hand but I don't think Manmohan Singh would approve what mistakes have been committed by either the Government of India or RBI in the matter of demonetisation.
It is indeed a helping hand. Also, Singh's statesmanship shines through. In a democracy, respect for the opposing views is of utmost importance. That's what makes a democracy thrive. Singh's rescue act is a reminder of this.
Moreover, it also shows Singh's respect for the RBI and his concern about its reputation, which has suffered post-demonetisation. Reportedly, he had asked members of the panel to keep the RBI's stature as an institution in their mind when questioning Patel.
More importantly, it also sends a message that in policy matters the final authority is always the government. There is no point in hounding the RBI politically.
Updated Date: Jan 19, 2017 07:49 AM