Wrath of co-op bank depositors: Why BJP MP Tejasvi Surya decamped midway through a meeting in Bengaluru

Customers of Shri Guru Raghavendra Cooperative Bank filed a complaint with ECI against BJP leaders, including incumbent MP Tejasvi Surya.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Apr 15, 2024 | 10:23 PMUpdatedApr 16, 2024 | 7:36 PM

Karnataka BJP Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya Shri Guru Raghavendra Cooperative Bank.

What was meant to be a ‘meet and greet’ with voters turned into a nightmare for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Tejasvi Surya after he chose to exit the venue in a huff on Saturday.

In the latest development in the incident, Shri Guru Raghavendra Cooperative Bank’s aggrieved customers on Monday, 15 April, filed a complaint before the Election Commission of India (ECI) against BJP leaders, including incumbent MP Tejasvi Surya and election officials.

These developments occurred against the backdrop of a cooperative meeting held at Basavanagudi on Saturday, where incumbent Bangalore South MP Surya left the meeting midway after several victims of the Shri Guru Raghavendra Cooperative Bank financial fraud sought answers over a delay in compensating the customers.

A purported video of Surya and his uncle — Basavanagudi MLA LA Ravi Subramanya — being heckled has gone viral on social media, attracting severe criticism from netizens.

Even four years after the multi-crore scam was exposed, around 8,000 customers — whose cumulative exceeded ₹5 lakh each — are waiting to get compensation from the bank.

After the financial fraud was uncovered, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigated the scam and attached the bank’s assets worth ₹159 crore.

The Karnataka government handed eventually over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

It may be noted that Surya claimed in his performance report card that he was instrumental in promulgating amendments to DICGC that helped 98 percent of bank depositors nationwide with payouts. “This claim by Surya in his report card is false,” claimed the aggrieved customers.

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The complaint

Two days after BJP’s incumbent MP Tejasvi Surya was reportedly heckled by aggrieved customers of the Shri Guru Raghavendra Cooperative Bank in a meeting, the enraged customers registered a complaint before the ECI on Monday.

Congress MLA UB Venkatesh accompanied the aggrieved customers while filing the complaint before the ECI.

Three of the customers filed a two-page complaint against three BJP leaders — Surya and his uncle Ravi Subramanya — as well as the Bangalore South constituency’s poll officials, demanding stringent action.

In the complaint, one aggrieved customer said: “BJP leaders organised a meeting of depositors of the Shri Guru Raghavendra Cooperative Bank on 13 April in the Basavanagudi Assembly constituency, which falls under the jurisdiction of Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency. Bangalore South Lok Sabha member Tejasvi Surya and Basavanagudi MLA LA Ravi Subramanya, BJP mandal president Girish and other party leaders were present in this meeting.”

He added: “When Surya and Subramanya were questioned during the meeting over the bank depositor’s grievances not being redressed, Girish attacked the depositors.”

He alleged: “Subramanya and Girish attacked the depositors and snatched a camera to stop the on-duty election staff from filming the video.”

He further said in the complaint: “All these incidents took place in the presence of election observers of the Bangalore South seat. Instead of recording the matter, the assistant election officers of the Basavanagudi Assembly seat covered it up and helped the accused.”

The complainant also said: “It is doubtful that the officials who supported BJP candidate Surya, Subramanya, and Girish’s hooligan behaviour will conduct free and fair elections. Therefore, we request you to take this issue seriously and release the officers from election duty, and take appropriate action against BJP leaders Surya, Subrahmanya, Girish and others who assaulted the election staff and the public.”

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The cooperative bank scam

The multi-crore scam — estimated to be worth around ₹2,500 crore, reportedly misappropriated by the bank management — was exposed after the RBI imposed withdrawal limits on this cooperative lender in 2020.

According to the aggrieved customers, around 20,000 of the 30,000 depositors — whose deposit was less than ₹5 lakh each — benefited from the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation) DICGC insurance scheme.

Even those who have deposited more than ₹5 lakh got an insurance sum of ₹5 lakh, but were yet to get their principal deposit, noted these customers.

Harish V, an aggrieved customer who was at Saturday’s meeting, pointed out: “There is always a DICGC insurance scheme in banks. Under this scheme, if any bank goes ‘sick’, the DICGC insurance kicks in. It covers up to ₹5 lakh of insurance for each depositor, irrespective of their investment or deposit amount.”

He added: “Earlier, the insurance was just ₹1 lakh. They used to give insurance sums to depositors or customers only when the bank was completely liquidated. As per an amendment, they have to give ₹5 lakh within 90 days of the closure of the bank.”

He continued: “Around 10,000 people, whose deposits amount to 80 percent of the total sum deposited in the bank, are still stuck. The total deposit amount was ₹2,500 crore. After clearing the deposits of aggrieved customers via DICGC scheme, the remaining ₹1,700 crore deposit has remained with the bank.”

Harish claimed: “Around 7,000-8,000 aggrieved customers are waiting for their deposits to be cleared from the bank.”

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Aggrieved customers assaulted?

The aggrieved customers of the Shri Guru Raghavendra Cooperative Bank Limited alleged that the BJP leaders assaulted them during Saturday’s meeting when they asked MP Tejasvi Surya about the delay in reimbursement.

A video that on Monday went viral on social media platforms showed that he left the meeting midway. He allegedly manhandled and argued with the aggrieved customers while leaving the meeting.

Harish told South First: “The Sahakara Samagama meeting was held to discuss the current affairs of cooperative banks. It was an open meeting. We learnt that Tejasvi Surya and Ravi Subramanya would be at the meeting.”

He added: “The depositors planned to turn up at the meeting and question them. They had promised ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls to address our concerns, giving assurances of bringing fresh investors for the remaining Rs 1,700 crore and setting a lock-in period of one year before clearing the deposits of customers in multiple phases.”

He claimed: “They disappeared after the elections. Even if we went to their residence or office seeking help, they sent us away and did not allow us near their office. We thought this was the only opportunity to confront them.”

Harish said: “We went to the meeting and started shooting questions at them. They (Surya and Subramanya) stopped us from asking questions and then told us to leave the meeting after listening to their speeches.”

Asked what questions were shot at the BJP leaders, he replied: “We are completely unsure or have zero clue about what’s happening with us. We wanted to learn about the latest updates on the matter.”

He also asserted that some of the aggrieved customers were assaulted at the meeting. “We have filed the complaint before the ECI and are likely to approach the police as well,” he said.

“Surya claims that it was he who ensured the DICGC insurance grants to all the customers. In reality, they cleared only ₹720 crore. Looking at the current status, it appears that we will not get compensated,” said a dismayed Harish.

Also Read: Video of Tejasvi Surya ‘promoting’ dosa as rains cripple Bengaluru draws ire

‘200 aggrieved customers have died’

Retired RBI officer KN Ranganath, who is also president of the Sri Guru Raghavendra Cooperative Bank, told South First: “I was also one of the investors in this bank. I invested my hard-earned ₹40 lakhs in it. I have been waiting for the last four and a half years to get my compensation .”

He noted: “I have so far got only ₹5 lakh, which is the DICGC insurance. Our demand is to merge or revive the bank or bring investors.”

Ranganath added: “We want an early settlement. Around 200 aggrieved customers have already died. More people are likely to lose their lives in the coming days.”

He also said: “We held various meetings with the RBI and also carried out campaigns, but nothing concrete came of them.”

Ranganath continued: “We also demand that the fraudsters be caught. The matter is being investigated by the CBI. We are waiting for justice.”

He recalled: “I was 64 when I put my money into this bank. Now I am 70. I don’t know whether I am going to live for another day.”

Tejasvi Surya, however, insisted that the Congress was behind the “disruption and assault” in BJP’s meeting.

“Fearing their inevitable defeat, desperate Congress first resorted to bribery & got caught with cash in Jayanagar 4th Block. Now, they’re resorting to disruption, sending agitators to push, shove & assault women & senior citizens at our meetings,” he claimed in a post of X, formerly Twitter.

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)