Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with his ministers, sat on a dharna in front of the Reserve Bank of India office in Thiruvananthapuram protesting against the Centre's move to "destroy" the cooperative sector in the state under the cover of demonetisation process and also took pot shots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Vijayan and his Cabinet colleagues marched from the Martyrs Column at Palayam to the RBI regional office in Thiruvananthapuram, before commencing the dharna.
The CM termed the Centre's move a "political conspiracy", backed by BJP, and rejected the saffron party's charge that cooperative societies are "hub for black money".
Attacking the Prime Minister, he said the demonetisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes "without taking proper precautionary measures" had led to the present "crisis" and hardships to people.
Arguing that about 84-86 per cent of currency in circulation was that in the demonetised notes, he said the sudden withdrawal had led to the "present crisis".
"It was not an appropriate decision of a seasoned administrator," he said.
Vijayan said the cooperative sector was not being allowed to accept deposits and exchange demonetised Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes which had led to "deep crisis" and attributed this to the outcome of BJP's "propaganda".
"All financial transactions in these societies have accurate inspection system and these are deposits of ordinary persons," he said, adding, the sector stands with the people of the state.
Vijayan said he and state Finance Minister Thomas Issac had met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on November 14 to apprise the Centre of the difficulties of the cooperative sector.
"We pointed out that primary agricultural cooperative societies should also be allowed to exchange notes and accept deposits. We thought there would be a favourable decision. But by afternoon, the Centre decided to take back the permission given to district banks also," he said, adding, "this was not a normal action".
Pointing that some people may be shocked that cooperative sector in the state had such deposits of about Rs 1.27 lakh crore, he said, "The sector has grown step by step and people working in this field are socially committed".
Highlighting the importance of cooperative societies in Kerala, he said 70 per cent of agriculture loans for farmers were given by the sector. Besides, it also meets the day-to-day needs of the people, he said.
Vijayan said, "Cooperative sector in Kerala has a bond with the people right from their birth to their death. People depend for all their small needs on the sector".
To save the cooperative sector, Kerala will fight unitedly, he said.
"We need to stand together on the issue. We need to fight out forces who are trying to destroy the sector," he said.
A special Cabinet has been called later in the day to discuss the issues of the sector and an all-party meeting would be held on November 21 on the issue, he said.
CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said all India programmes and actions on the issue will be launched along with other opposition parties and his party would take the initiative.