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Govt Privatising Profit, Nationalising Loss: Rahul on Bank Strike

The Quint
·3-min read

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hit out at the Centre as the bank strike by public sector banks entered its second day on Tuesday, 16 March, accusing the government of compromising India’s financial security by selling public sector banks to “Modi cronies.”

Accusing the Narendra Modi government of “privatising profit and nationalising loss,” Gandhi extended his support to the ten lakh bank employees who are protesting the privatisation of two public sector banks and 'retrograde' banking reforms.

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The strike was announced after a failed conciliation meeting between the bank unions and the Union Finance Ministry on 4, 9, and 10 March, reported IANS. The unions asked for the government to reconsider privatisation, as it may lead to job loss.

80,000 bank branches participated in the strike, affecting clearance of cheques worth ₹16,500 crore, said trade unions to Mint.

Congress Extends Support

Congress General Secretary Randeep Surjewala on Monday extended support to the protest and said, “We stand in solidarity with 10 lakh bank officials and staff participating in the strike against reckless privatization of public sector banks,” adding that there is no rationale for selling state owned lenders to private lenders, noted IANS.

The Congress emphasised that this move was a “desperate attempt to meet the disinvestment target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore,” and that “PSU banks are not just profit-making ventures, they have in the past been used as vehicles of social reforms,” added the report.

Congress stated that public bank outreach must be accessible to populations in villages and smaller towns, a move that private lenders will not prioritise.

Alleging that the government is running away from the responsibility of better governance in public sector banks, Congress asked for higher accountability and not outright sale, added the report.

Banking Services Affected

The strike commenced AT 6 am on Monday, and is likely to end on Tuesday, at midnight. The banks were closed over the weekend on 13 and 14 March, leading to a four-day break in regular operations. Therefore, services such as deposits and withdrawals, cheque clearances and loan approval has been affected, added the report.

Since payments are being affected, the strike is likely to have an impact on the stock market as well. Online banking facility will continue to operate on strike days, and ATMs are functional for use as well.

While functioning of PSBs are affected, services at private banks like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and IndusInd Bank remain unaffected by the strike.

Also Read: Banking Services Hit As Lakhs Of Employees Go On Two-Day Strike

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