Naidu 'impatient' as currency crisis drags - Never seen problem go unresolved for so long, says BJP ally

Hyderabad, Nov. 20: N. Chandrababu Naidu, one of the staunchest supporters of demonetisation, today expressed dismay that a currency crisis still gripped the country 12 days after his political ally and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the drive.
"In my vast political life and experience, this is the first time I'm seeing a crisis remaining unresolved for such a long period," the Andhra Pradesh chief minister said during a teleconference with Reserve Bank and state government officials and district collectors.
"It's painful to see that the problem caused by demonetisation is continuing even after 12 days."
Naidu appeared to be handing a lesson in crisis management to the Centre as he recounted how fast his administration had stemmed the chaos from a cyclone and a stampede-scarred mass festival in the past two years.
The chief minister said he was "becoming impatient". Modi had asked people to be patient for 50 days.
Naidu had been advocating a ban on 500 and 1,000-rupee notes since 2013, and was one of the few politicians outside the BJP to welcome the demonetisation announcement of November 8.
Indeed, a few days before the announcement, he had written to Modi urging such a move to stifle corruption and vote-buying. The letter has prompted a couple of Naidu's ministers to claim the chief minister had inspired Modi's decision.
"I compliment the PM," Naidu had himself said after the demonetisation drive was launched, while at the same time questioning the plan to introduce 2,000-rupee notes and seeking a debate on it.
In a show of support for Modi's decision, Naidu's government had opened a helpdesk at Vijayawada and a toll-free line to help people deposit their old notes at banks and post offices.
The endowment department, which oversees the running of many temples, offered the coins and smaller currency from the hundis to the banks. In certain districts such as West Godavari, the administration initiated a system of tokens substituting for notes in the purchase of vegetables at government-administered farmer markets.
Today, Naidu cited how he had dealt with crises. "We overcame the catastrophe caused by the cyclone in eight days," he said, referring to Cyclone Hudhud, which had pounded Visakhapatnam in October 2014.
Naidu had camped in the port city for about a week, operating out of a bus and winning praise from residents for restoring normality in a short time.
"We held the Godavari pushkaram (a festival in July last year) for 14 days without further hiccup after the trouble faced on the first day (a stampede that killed about 30 people). But the demonetisation trouble remains unresolved after 12 days," he said.
Naidu had camped in Rajahmundry, where the stampede happened, to ensure there were no more disasters.
He said he was holding today's meeting on a Sunday because of the seriousness of the situation.
"I'm becoming impatient but we should appreciate the public who are showing patience. To provide relief to the people is the immediate duty before the bankers and the finance officials," he said.
"Bankers should take this as an opportunity to prove their capabilities. We should move forward to tackle the situation with cooperation, coordination and efficient action."
He warned that notices would be served on banks that failed to cooperate.
Naidu asked the banks to set up call centres to keep customers abreast of the latest position on cash. He asked the bigger banks with currency chests to share the money with rural branches.
He said that more point-of-sale machines would be added to the already operating 25,208 e-pass machines at ration shops. He asked state officials to make all the transactions cashless.
The chief minister also directed that 60 lakh students be trained in mobile banking and online transactions so they could spread the knowledge among family and friends.
He hoped the situation would ease from Monday with a fresh consignment of Rs 2,000 crore worth of cash arriving in the state.