The All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC) condemned the alleged “humiliation” of SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman but soon withdrew its statement.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman during an event in Guwahati on February 27 had called the State Bank of India a “heartless bank” and even accused the bank of failing to extend loans to tea garden workers in Assam, Business Today reported.
Suthraman reportedly launched an attack on the SBI chief at the SBI Financial Inclusion Outreach Programme in Guwahati.
Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and several senior bureaucrats from the state and the Centre were present at the event.
The pan-India bank officers’ body condemned the “unfair treatment” meted out to the SBI chief.
It also demanded an “immediate investigation” in the matter of recording of the Financial Outreach Programme Enclave and the alleged misuse of the footage on social media by certain miscreants.
“She launched a vituperative verbal tirade at Rajnish Kumar and accused him of being responsible for all the failures of the Bank (SBI) in extending loans, especially to the tea garden workers as a ‘heartless bank’ and literally humiliated Rajnish Kumar, chairman of the largest bank in the country in the forum,” AIBOC said.
An SBI officer reportedly told Sitharaman that the bank needed clearance from the Reserve Bank of India to make the accounts of tea garden workers functional, and that it could be done within a week.
“Don’t tire me out…don’t tire me out,” the finance minister reportedly said, according to Scroll.
“SBI chairman you will meet me in Delhi on this matter and I am not letting this go. This is utter omission of job. I hold you completely responsible for a failure and I shall have a detailed talk with you. [You should] get the accounts going and not one of the tea garden workers will suffer because of your obduracy.”
“Don’t tell me you are the largest bank. You are a heartless bank. SLBCs [State Level Bankers’ Committees] don’t function like this. This will not work. Nothing makes up for your inefficiency…Let me be very blunt on this…,” she reportedly said.
Later in the day, the AIBOC backed down on its criticism of the finance minister. “I on behalf of AIBOC is withdrawing the press release as it was erroneously released,” Dutta said.