Mon, Dec 5, 2016 | updated 10:11 PM IST

Demonetisation brings rivals closer: Mamata tells Yechury to join hands against Modi

Updated: Nov 13, 2016 18:15 IST

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], Nov. 13 (ANI): In a major political development since demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 on November 8, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday made a phone call to her arch rival Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, saying that they should join hands against the Narendra Modi government's recent move and should also meet President Pranab Mukherjee in this regard.

"This is not an ego battle. I humbly appeal again to the Government at the Centre to save the common people from more suffering and the country from financial catastrophe by withdrawing this hasty decision. First, please put a proper action plan in place, and breathing space for people.

"Today, I spoke with several political leaders regarding a joint movement and to meet Rashtrapati Ji together. Let us all fight this together to give relief to common citizens, the poor and stop this financial anarchy," Media Trinamool quoted Mamata as saying.

According to sources, Yechury told her that he was in Tamil Nadu, and would look into her proposal after having consultations with his Bengal colleagues when he returns to Delhi.

Sources said the CPM Politburo will discuss the matter tomorrow, following which Yechury will address a press conference around 12.30.

However, in a bid to assuage the building frustration among people who have been fuming over dry ATM machines and serpentine queues outside banks and ATMs, Union Finance Minster Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the Finance Ministry is monitoring currency replacement constantly and added that it would take two to three weeks approximately to recalibrate 2 lakh ATMs across the country.

Jaitley also acknowledged that people are getting inconvenienced to replace currency notes and said that currency replacement of this magnitude would take time.

"When the government decided to replace 500 and 1000 notes, there were expectations that in couple of days, people would queue up to replace significant part, 86 per cent. It is a massive operation. There are challenges in execution. People are turning up in large numbers, so they will keep coming in the next few days. The government requests them that the deposit time is till December 30," he said.

The government, Jaitley said, has directed the Bank officials on helping senior citizens in the smooth exchange of notes.

Listing out facts in which the banks are undertaking currency exchange, Jaitley said that Rs. 7,868 crore have been deposited in the SBI. The bank exchanged notes of 58 lakh people. 22 lakh people operated at ATMs, 33 lakh have withdrawn from SBI, which handles 20-25 per cent of total banking. Till 12.15 p.m. today the bank conducted 2.28 crore transactions. He said five modes of transactions are involved in banks, cash deposit, withdrawal from cash, cash to cash exchange, ATM cash withdrawal and cash deposit machines being used.

The finance minister also appealed to the business community to avoid using cash and start using digital payment gateways.

"Government appeals to those in businesses to start using digital payment gateways, cards and banking system. Life will become simpler, in new financial system that is only viable option," Jaitley said.

Jaitley rejected allegations that the information with regard to demonetisation was leaked two months prior to the announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Some were alleging that the bank deposits increased from July to September, alluding to the fact information on currency exchange was leaked. However, as per RBI records, in last one year, there was spike in deposits in September only. It was due to disbursal of pay commission arrears," he said.

"Today our energy is concentrated on smooth and quick replacement of money. Enforcement Directorate and other departments concerned are keeping close watch on any illegal activities," Jaitley added.

There are approximately two lakh ATMs across the country.

Many ATMs, which was reopened after the Prime Minister Modi's demonetisation decision, were forced to shut down after it ran out of cash. (ANI)