'Farmers are much pained today.'
'They have no idea what to do with the money they have.'
Vitthalbhai Radadiya, the BJP MP from Porbandar, tells Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore how demonetisation has led to rural distress.
Vitthalbhai Hansrajbhai Radadiya, the Bharatiya Janata Party's member of Parliament from Porbandar, has emerged the first voice from within the BJP to oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi's demonetisation scheme.
The way it is being implemented on the ground, Radadiya said, has put the rural economy and farmers in great distress.
Speaking over the telephone, Radadiya told Rediff.com that farmers, who have accounts in district cooperative banks, have been facing acute shortage of cash since November 9.
"The RBI (Reserve Bank of India) circular not allowing exchange or deposit of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from any district cooperative banks has led to the collapse of the rural economy," Radadiya said.
The MP from Porbandar, who in 2012 had brandished a gun at a toll booth when asked for his identity card and who later joined the BJP and won the Lok Sabha seat in 2014, is the chairman of the Rajkot District Cooperative Bank, which has over 1,800 branches across Gujarat.
"In the wake of the RBI circular, where will the farmers go to deposit and exchange their old notes?" Radadiya asked.
"Why are other banks allowed this freedom and why only single out district cooperative banks?" the Porbandar MP asked.
"What wrong have we done? Are we money launderers that we are being looked upon with suspicion?"
Radadiya has already made a representation of the impact of this ban on district cooperative banks to Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and BJP President Amit Shah.
"They said they will soon come out with a solution to this mess as they don't want the farmers to suffer a loss because of demonetisation," the MP said.
The entire rural economy, Radadiya pointed out, is based on cash transactions and squeezing out liquidity in such an abrupt manner will only harm the farmers' interests.
"The farmers, who have to stand in long queues outside banks, are much pained today. They have no usable money left with them. They have no idea what to do with the money they have. If the government doesn't come out with a solution quickly," the MP warns, "there will be more chaos."
IMAGE: Women queue up outside a bank to exchange old notes in Beawar, Rajasthan. Photograph: PTI Photo