Did Nirmala Sitharaman berate SBI chief? Officers’ union upset

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The All India Bank Officers’ Confederation has condemned the purported “unsavoury attack” on SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during a banking event last month in Guwahati.

The association claimed that an audio clip has gone viral on social media that revealed the finance minister coming down heavily on the SBI chief, accusing him of poor credit uptick, during an outreach programme in late February.

The AIBOC is the largest bank officers’ organisation having a membership of around 3,20,000 officers.

The AIBOC “vehemently condemns the direct and unsavoury attack on the chairman of State Bank of India, Rajnish Kumar, by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently in Guwahati as revealed in an audio clip, which has gone viral on social media”, it said in a statement dated March 13.

It appears that on February 27, 2020, while attending the SBI Financial Inclusion Outreach programme at Guwahati, the finance minister came down heavily on State Bank of India and its chairman Rajnish Kumar in the presence of finance minister of Assam and other officials of DFS, state government, heads of various other banks, the AIBOC said.

“She launched a vituperative verbal tirade at Rajnish Kumar and accused him of being responsible for all the failures of extending loans, especially to tea garden workers in Assam,” it added.

She even went on to brand SBI as a “heartless bank” and literally humiliated Rajnish Kumar, chairman of the largest bank of the country, in the forum, it claimed.

“On top of all, it is disheartening to observe that the entire episode has been recorded by someone and it has been ensured that the same goes viral on social media.

“We deem it nothing but an unfortunate deliberate attempt on the part of certain unidentified miscreants who can unauthorisedly can go to the extent of recording and spreading the humiliation of SBI chairman at the hands of the finance minister at an official conclave,” the banking officers’ union said.

It said the intent to make the audio and letting it go viral on social media has the only possible motive of demeaning and tarnishing the image of the largest public sector bank in the eyes of public at large.

“We are of the view that representatives of the people should abstain from indulging in such misdemeanour with any top level executive of the public sector banks.”

AIBOC further said: “We also demand an immediate investigation in the matter of recording of the financial outreach programme enclave at Guwahati and the misuse of social media by certain miscreants.”