Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar
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A purported audio clip where finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman came down heavily on State Bank of India and its chairman Rajnish Kumar.

The audio clip is said to be recorded on February 27, 2020, when Nirmala Sitharaman was attending the SBI Financial Inclusion Outreach programme at Guwahati. That is when the finance minister came down heavily on State Bank of India and its chairman Rajnish Kumar in presence of finance minister of Assam and other officials of various other banks.

The incident took place when Sitharaman was discussing issues faced by tea garden workers in Assam and the other northeastern states. She launched a scathing attack on Rajnish Kumar and accused him of being responsible for all the failures of extending loans, especially to tea garden workers in Assam. She was referring to the 2.5 lakh bank accounts of tea garden workers in Assam which were non-functional.Nirmala Sitharaman

In an audio clip of the event, the finance minister asks how soon the accounts could be made functional. An SBI officer in the clip is heard saying that the bank needed clearance from the Reserve Bank of India for these accounts to be made functional. It could be done within a week, the official also says. 'Don't tire me out. 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 tea garden worker will suffer because of your obduracy,' the finance minister is also heard saying in the audio clip.

After the audio clip went viral on social media, the All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC) condemned the purported "unsavoury attack" on SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar

The AIBOC in a statement said that it "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".

The AIBOC also claimed that Sitharaman 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.

"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 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 at an official conclave," the banking officers' union said.

(Inputs from Agencies)

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