Hand in the till
ON DECEMBER 10, A DAY BEFORE THE Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party regime suffered its electoral triple strike in the Hindi-speaking heartland came the stunning announcement of the resignation of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Urjit Patel. Tellingly, while Urjit Patel thanked his colleagues for their support in his parting statement issued to the media, nothing like that was reserved for either the officials of the Finance Ministry or the government in general. Obviously, Urjit Patel was leaving in a fit of pique. The inescapable conclusion on the timing was that even though Urjit Patel realised that his continuation at the helm had become impossible because of the mounting barrage of attacks on the independence of the institution, he could at least time his departure in a manner that would maximise its retributive impact.
The crisis highlighted yet again the utter inability of the Modi regime to work with any institution in the spirit of democratic cooperation and mutual respect that tolerated dissent. The impression that Modi seeks full-spectrum dominance of any relationship with Indian institutions has thus solidified after this exit of a top government functionary. Urjit Patel’s replacement, Shaktikanta Das, the former Union Finance Secretary who resolutely handled media queries in the aftermath of India’s adventure with demonetisation in November 2016 even as Urjit Patel, as the custodian of the national currency, remained impassive, reinforced the general consensus that Modi seeks to take control of the central bank in order to put it to use in the general election that is just months away. To get a sense of why Modi is so
In a remarkable display of brinksmanship, the embattled Narendra Modi regime goes for broke by forcing the Reserve Bank Governor to quit. Clearly, Modi seeks total control of the banking system to boost his sagging fortunes as he prepares to face the electorate in 2019.
RBI GOVERNOR Urjit Patel (right) and Deputy Governor Viral Acharya at a news conference after the monetary policy review in Mumbai, on December 5. Five days later Urjit Patel resigned as Governor.