Maharashtra opposition accuses SBI chief of breach of privilege
Mumbai: The Maharashtra Opposition parties on Thursday protested against State Bank of India Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya's comments on farm-loan waiver and warned her of a breach of privilege motion in the legislature unless she tendered an apology.
Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said Bhattacharya's comments were an insult to the farmers and breach of privilege of the state legislature.
His statement came after a large number of Congress and Nationalist Congress Party legislators and activists protested outside the SBI headquarters at Nariman Point.
Though Bhattacharya was reportedly not present, a senior SBI officer was planning to come and meet the protestors but they left before he could reach them, an SBI official said.
On Wednesday, Bhattacharya expressed her reservations over the assurances and demand for complete farm-loan waiver, coming up from different quarters in recent months.
These include the Maharashtra opposition parties and ruling ally Shiv Sena, besides the Karnataka government, and assurances to this effect during the recent election campaign in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
Bhattacharya, 60, said that this would disturb the credit discipline among the borrowers, they would keep expecting more such waivers in future and even those (future) loans would remain unpaid.
Condemning Bhattacharya's comments, Vikhe Patil said she is not "a policy-maker" for the country or the state and any decision on waiving of farm loans can be taken only by the legislature.
Questioning her statements, he demanded why Bhattacharya kept mum when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced farm loan waivers during the Uttar Pradesh election campaign.
He said that on one hand, the SBI chief speaks of financial discipline for farm loans waiver, but on the other it has written off debts worth around Rs 140,000 crore for defaulters like Vijay Mallya and other rich industrialists.
"When it's a question of Maharashtra farmers, how did she suddenly remember financial discipline? If she has the courage, then she should express her opinion before the PM," Vikhe-Patil advised, demanding an apology from Bhattacharya.
"Bhattacharya is only a public servant... She has attempted a breach of privilege of the legislature... She must continue to serve the public and not act like a master of the farmers," Vikhe Patil observed in a sharp rebuke to the SBI Chairperson.