Bihar’s Nitish Kumar, Tripura’s Manik Sarkar and Puducherry’s V. Narayanasamy have refused the Narendra Modi government’s invitation to join a sub-committee of Chief Ministers on digitisation and cashless transactions.
The panel is tasked with suggesting possible ways to ease problems in the wake of the Centre’s demonetisation decision, sources in the Janata Dal (United), the CPI(M) and the Congress confirmed.
The panel is now left with just two members — its chairperson, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Mr. Naidu leads the Telugu Desam Party, which is a BJP ally, and Mr. Chauhan is from the BJP.
Mr. Kumar’s decision not to accept a place on the sub-committee is particularly significant as he had initially supported the government’s move.
Senior BJP leaders had told The Hindu that despite what Mr. Kumar’s JD(U) colleagues were saying in Parliament, the Bihar Chief Minister was actually with them. This had also sparked off speculation that the relationship between the JD(U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, its partner in the Bihar government, was on the rocks.
Mr. Sarkar was the first to publicly refuse the Centre’s offer. Despite the Union Finance Minister’s insistence that he join the panel, Mr. Sarkar stayed firm. “I opposed the decision because it created a disorder in our economy and also 75 to 77 people have committed suicide.”
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that met here on Wednesday has decided to call mid-month Reserve Bank Governor Urijit Patel and Finance Ministry officials to explain the thinking behind the demonetisation move, the panel’s chairman and senior Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily said. It was a “consensus decision,” Mr. Moily said.
Solution to cash crunch
At a meeting organised by Niti Aayog on Thursday, Mr. Naidu pitched for digital payment methods as a solution to the cash crunch. As convener of the Chief Ministers’ sub-committee, he called for distribution of more Rupay, Visa, Master and debit cards, while underlining need for more card swipe machines.
( With inputs from Yuthika Bhargava )