Congress president Rahul Gandhi slammed the Modi government on Monday following the abrupt resignation of Reserved Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel.
Patel, 55, tendered his resignation on Monday evening citing “personal reasons”. His resignation came following days of rift between the central government and the central bank over a series of issues including surplus reserves and bad loans.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting between opposition leaders in New Delhi, the 48-year-old Gandhi said that he got the information of Patel’s resignation while he was in the middle of the meeting.
“We were in the middle of the meeting when we were told that RBI Governor has resigned because he could no longer work with the government,” said Gandhi with opposition leaders TDP’s N Chandrababu Naidu, DMK’s MK Stalin and others on his side.
“There was consensus in the room that we’ve to stop BJP’s assault on our institutions such as the CBI, RBI, EC and on the Constitution,” Gandhi said.
Accusing the central government of forcibly trying to take surplus reserves from RBI to “save their own skin”, Gandhi said that the RBI Governor is resigning because he’s protecting the institution of RBI.
“Taking away reserves from RBI to save your skin is an act against this nation. I’m very proud that people from all walks of life and institutions are standing up to it,” he said.
Other Congress leaders, too, slammed PM Modi over Patel’s resignation.
“People he (the PM) appointed are resigning. First Arvind Subramanian left as CEA and now it’s Urjit Patel. Economy is suffering, Modi thinks that he’s the biggest economist and he doesn’t need them, so they are resigning,” senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal was quoted as saying by ANI.
Patel, who succeeded Raghuram Rajan on 4 September 2016 as the RBI Governor, said that he has decided to step down from his current position, “effective immediately”.
“On account of personal reasons, I have decided to step down from my current position, effective immediately,” he said in a statement.
“It has been my privilege and honour to serve in the RBI in various capacities over the years,” Patel said.
Thanking the staff of the central bank, Patel said, “The support and hard work of the RBI staff, officers and management has been the proximate drive of the Bank’s considerable accomplishments in recent years. I take this opportunity to express gratitude to my colleagues and Directors of the RBI Central Board, and wish them all the best for the future.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Patel as “an economist of a very high calibre” who “steered the banking system from chaos to order and ensured discipline”.
“Dr Urjit Patel is an economist of a very high calibre with a deep and insightful understanding of macro-economic issues. He steered the banking system from chaos to order and ensured discipline. Under his leadership, the RBI brought financial stability,” said the PM in a tweet.
“Dr. Urjit Patel is a thorough professional with impeccable integrity. He has been in the Reserve Bank of India for about 6 years as Deputy Governor and Governor. He leaves behind a great legacy. We will miss him immensely,” wrote PM Modi in another tweet.
Patel’s term was to end on September 2019. By resigning before the completion of his term, Patel became the first RBI Governor since 1990 to resign from his post. The last Governor to do so was RN Malhotra.