All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC) has condemned the alleged "humiliation" of SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the SBI Financial Inclusion Outreach Programme in Guwahati on February 27, calling it an "unfair treatment".
During the event, the FM had called the State Bank of India a "heartless bank" and even accused the country's largest lender of failing to extend loans to tea garden workers in Assam.
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.
The body said it was disheartening see the entire episode going viral on social media. The body said the audio clip of the FM's speech was recorded by someone. "Nothing but an unfortunate deliberate attempt on the part of certain unidentified miscreants, who can unauthorisedly go to the extent of recording and spreading the humiliation of SBI Chairman at the hands of the Finance Minister in an official conclave with the only possible motive of demeaning and tarnishing the image of the largest public sector bank of the country," the body said.
This, however, was not the only incident when the Finance Minister reprimanded public sector banks as a whole on poor branch connect between banks and customers, which she said were affecting credit push.
Sitharaman, during the launch of next phase of reforms for state-owned banks (EASE 3.0) in New Delhi last month, rapped state-owned banks for being out of touch with customers at the ground level, saying they often failed to communicate government schemes to customers due to their inability to communicate in the local language.
"What I'll say will not be music to your ears. But I am going to say it because we need to introspect. Today when people come to meet me, there are often worries about how, at the branch level, we can be a little friendlier," the FM said.
In response, the AIBOC said the comments were an "irony in itself" as they had been made "at a time when the public sector bank branches were overburdened predominantly with various government schemes".
On the issue of the recent bailout of beleaguered private lender YES Bank by investors led by SBI, the AIBOC said the PSBs were being compelled to "bailout" crisis-hit private sector banks. The pan India bank officers' body said the government had attempted giving the beleaguered YES Bank a second lease of life by "putting a huge burden on none other than State Bank of India".