Vol. XL No. 47 November 20, 2016

Was BJP Aware of Note Ban Decision?

From our special correspondent

WHILE the nation grapples with worthless 500 and 1000 rupee notes which have lost their premier value as legal tenders from the midnight of November 8-9, the prime minister’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party in West Bengal has proved to be a smart Alec. In the afternoon of November 8th the Kolkata’s Central Avenue branch of the Indian Bank (Branch code: 00C004; IFS Code; ID IB 000C004; MICR Code: 700019008) received a deposit of Rs 60 lakhs, all in the denomination of 1,000 rupee notes. The money was deposited in one hundred neat bundles.

A few hours later another deposit of Rs 40 lakhs was made at the same branch of the same bank but the bundles this time contained, in addition to 1,000 rupee notes, 500 rupee notes too. Both these deposits were made into the savings account of Bharatiya Janata Party – West Bengal, the account number being 554510034. The money was deposited using the PAN number of the party’s central unit.

This apparently innocuous incident should not really impel us to burn our midnight oil. But it assumes significance when seen in the context of the speech delivered by the prime minister on the same day later in the evening in which he declared that the 1,000 and 500 rupee notes in circulation would no longer be accepted as legal tenders. It has been peddled to the common consciousness that the whole operation was done without any leaks. The cabinet was supposedly informed shortly before the prime minister went on air to make the announcement. In fact, it is said the cabinet members were not allowed to leave the room on Tuesday (November 8) till the prime minister ended his address. The officers involved in the demonetisation process were quarantined and the notification on the move was printed in secrecy.

Just six days prior to the prime minister’s amazing announcement, that is on the 1st of this month, rupees 75 lakhs was deposited in a savings bank account (no. 6365251388) of the Indian Bank. Incidentally the deposited notes were either 1,000 or 500 rupee notes. In this same account rupees 1 crore 25 lakhs were deposited by the BJP-West Bengal on November 5. This means that before the prime minister’s “surgical strike” on black money took the nation by storm, the BJP-West Bengal had, in four instalments, deposited 3 crores, all in 1,000 and 500 denomination notes.

The West Bengal unit of the BJP has accounts in other banks other the one in question.

This raises some pertinent questions. If in reality such strict vigilance was maintained, how did the state unit of the ruling party get wind of such an important and super-secret decision of the government? Was this act of depositing soon-to-be redundant 1,000 and 500 rupee notes restricted to Bengal alone or was it carried out surreptitiously in the other states? Were the top brass of the ruling party in the know of things soon to unfold? Was the project indeed top secret as it is made out to be?

West Bengal does not quite fit into the description of a state where the saffron brigade can claim to have a very strong mass base. If a state with a weak organisation and an emaciated mass base has deposited three crores of rupees in the span of a few days how much cash must be stockpiled with other state units where the party has a strong organisation and a huge mass base?

Or is everything “just coincidental”?

CPI(M) daliy Ganashakti has published the news and  it created immediate repercussions. State BJP leaders, in a press conference  admitted the veracity of the news but claimed that they had done nothing ‘illegal’. The amount was deposited with PAN number and it has nothing to do with PM”s announcement. The news never mentioned anything ‘illegal’; the point was that while millions suffered, the BJP was aware of what was going to happen.