Appointment of Shaktikanta Das as new RBI Governor: PM Modi faces revolt within party

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The Centre’s Narendra Modi government on Tuesday stunned everyone by announcing the appointment of former bureaucrat Shaktikanta Das as the new Governor of Reserve Bank of India. He took charge of office on Wednesday to replace Urjit Patel. But, the Modi’s government’s decision to appoint Das as the new RBI governor has evoked widespread criticism including from his own party colleague Subramanian Swamy.

Shaktikanta Das

Leading the charge was BJP’s outspoken Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy, who slammed his own government in the new RBI appointment. He said that he had written a letter to PM Modi against the decision. News agency ANI quoted him as saying, “Shaktikanta Das being appointed as RBI Governor is wrong, he has worked closely in corrupt activities with P Chidambaram and even tried to save him in court cases. I don’t know why this was done, I have written a letter to PM against this decision.”

61-year-old Das has replaced Patel, who shocked the establishment and markets by announcing his exit from the central bank Monday. The new RBI Governor will have three-year term. Das, a 1980-batch Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer, who retired as Economic Affairs Secretary in May 2017, was responsible for presiding over the disastrous demonetisation of the economy after Modi’s shock decision to withdraw 86 per cent of the currency in circulation in November 2016.

Here’s how journalists and politicians reacted to Das’ appointment to head India’s federal bank. Journalist ParanjoyGuha Thakurta wrote, “Shaktikanta Das to be the next Governor of Reserve Bank of India: Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. He was a great supporter of demonetisation. Guess who may also be happy? Is it former Finance Minister P Chidambaram? Why? That’s an interesting story. Remember Aircel Maxis?” Journalist MK Venu wrote, “Shaktikanta Das who has the most unremarkable tenure as Secy in finance ministry is RBI Governor. He is close to Jaitley and will not need to call an RBI board meeting to give Centre whatever it asks for.”

Journalist Sucheta Dalal sarcastically tweeted, “Perfect! Congratulations #BJP. Close friend of Ravi Parthasarathy and Hari Sankaran of ILFS, Mr Shaktikanta Das is the new @RBI governor! #SabkaSaathSabKaVikas!”

Congress leader Kapil Sibal wrote, “Shaktikantadas our new RBI Governor. A bureaucrat not an economist. Defended Demonetisation.
The Pied Piper will play the tune and the RBI will follow . Inevitable outcome will be that RBI’s reserves will be used for government doles. Yet another institution will diminish.”

Sibal’s criticism aside, Das is not the first IAS officer to head the federal bank. According to news agency PTI, the last IAS officer to head the RBI was D Subbarao, who demitted office in September 2013.

Urjit Patel, who initially appeared to have toed the government line on issues like demonetisation, had in the recent weeks clashed with the Finance Ministry over issues of liquidity, reserves of the central bank and lending norms.

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