A huge drama ensued at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport on Wednesday afternoon when Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel dodged police officers designated to protect him and left the airport in a private car sent by the RBI office in the city.
Senior police officers of the city police, Bidhannagar Commissionerate, Special Branch and the protocol officers — who had been posted at the airport to receive Patel — were reportedly “shocked at the behaviour of the RBI Governor.”
Patel has come to the city to attend the board meeting of the RBI scheduled to be held on Thursday. He is supposed to meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after the board meeting at Nabanna the same day. Senior state government officials said: “Patel’s gesture has made tomorrow’s (Thursday) meeting uncertain.” According to a highly-placed source in the CMO, there is no mention of Patel’s visit on the list of guests scheduled to meet Banerjee.
Patel’s gesture has raised questions in the political circles. Some experts feel he did this deliberately “to avoid meeting Mamata Banerjee following instructions from his mentor Narendra Modi.”
“This is mainly because Banerjee will highlight the ordeal of the common man and ask him the exact number of currency notes RBI has sent to the state. She might point out to him that this ordeal is the result of Modi’s unplanned move. To avoid this embarrassment, Patel has himself created a distance with the state government,” said an expert.
Along with police escort, a pilot car was kept ready to escort Patel to the hotel on EM bypass where he will be staying. Accordingly, the police officers reached the airport an hour before his flight was scheduled to arrive. After the flight landed, however, the officers did not find anyone from the RBI.
To their utter astonishment, they saw Patel coming out from another gate and getting into a car provided by a travel agency with a yellow number plate. Before the police officers could approach him, the vehicle left the airport. The pilot car chased his vehicle but lost track due to heavy traffic. The entire episode unfolded within 10 minutes of Patel’s aircraft arriving in the city.
Political analysts suggest that as there is confusion among people as to when the cash crunch situation would improve, a statement by the RBI Governor in presence of the Chief Minister would have brought back their confidence in the banking system. “Instead of easing out the problem which everyone is facing, the RBI Governor has unnecessarily complicated the situation making Thursday’s meeting uncertain.”