Walkouts over opposing demands in Kerala Assembly

Kerala State Cooperative Bank, TrivandrumThiruvananthapuram: Kerala Assembly saw two walkouts to press for opposing demands on Tuesday.

Opposition United Democratic Front and Kerala Congress (M) walked out demanding that government should withdraw from move to dissolve district cooperative banks.

Independent member P. C. George staged a walkout demanding the district cooperative banks should be disbanded.

The walkouts took place after Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan denied permission to move an adjournment motion given notice of by P. Abdul Hameed (Muslim League) on the subject.

Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala said that the government had ordered enquiries and inspection of all the 14 district cooperative banks to prepare the ground for dismissal of their governing bodies and that of the State Cooperative Bank and formation of Kerala Bank by amalgamating the banks.  For this purpose, the LDF was alleging that there were irregularities in all the banks.

The Opposition Leader said that the move was against Constitutional provisions relating to autonomy and democracy in cooperatives. Fresh enquiry was ordered when concurrent auditing of the banks had been completed.

The proposal to form Kerala Bank, he said, will destroy the cooperative movement in the State. Already depositors are withdrawing deposits. This will create a crisis in the sector, he added.

Mr. P. C. George said that the three-tier system of cooperative banks increased the interest burden of those availing loans. The district banks collected a margin of two per cent (increasing the cost of loans). However, the government was not showing boldness to announce that district banks would be abolished.

Mr. O. Rajagopal (BJP) said that the concern about move to dissolve the governing bodies was genuine. Otherwise why the government was not assuring the House that they would not be superseded, he asked. Mr. Rajagopal did not, however, join the walkout.

Chief Minister Pinarai Vijayan intervened to say that the proposed Kerala Bank would only strengthen the cooperative sector. The details of the proposal were being worked out.

Minister for Cooperation A. C. Moideen said that there were many complaints about irregularities in the district banks. These included unauthorised establishment of branches and appointments and irregularities in sanctioning loans, constructing buildings and establishing automatic teller machines.

The enquiry ordered into them was not with political motives.  It would only help to improve the credibility of the cooperatives.

Mr. Abdul Hameed said that the allegations of widespread irregularities would only case distrust among customers.  If there were irregularities, they should be enquired into individually.

He added that the co-operators would fight the move to form Kerala Bank by amalgamating the district and State cooperative banks.