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Pmo Raises Questions Over Having Only A Sikh As P&sb Chairman


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NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has raised questions over the practice of reserving the Punjab & Sind Bank (P&SB) chairman and managing director's job for a Sikh despite the bank's nationalization three decades ago.

In the absence of a senior Sikh banker, the finance ministry is processing the proposal to appoint a Punjab cadre Indian Administrative Service officer to fill up the post that has been lying vacant for six months. In the past too, the government had relied on Sikh bureaucrats to fill up the post when it did not find Sikh executive directors who could be appointed P&SB CMD.

Sources familiar with the appointment process told TOI that the PMO has asked North Block to explain why the usual process of appointment could not be followed in case of P&SB too. For other banks, a government-appointed panel headed by RBI governor conducts an interview of executive directors of all public sector banks, barring State Bank of India, and those with up to two years of service left are shortlisted for appointment as bank CMDs.

Since G S Vedi's retirement in June, P&SB has remained without a full-time chairman and the issue of appointing a Sikh to the top post had been questioned last year too. However, in the wake of protests from the community, the government decided to go ahead with the process of looking for a Sikh bureaucrat for the job.

Bank executives said that while the bank was in safe hands, it was crucial for a bank like P&SB to have a full time CMD at the helm. The bank is the smallest public sector player, which only a few years ago emerged from strain caused by a build up of bad loans. Even now, the entity that recently listed on the stock exchange is yet to completely shift to core banking solutions, which provides anytime-anywhere banking services, and has little to talk about when it comes to having ATMs away from its branches.

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Demand to have a Sikh as head of P&SB Bank

New Delhi, Jan 24 (PTI) Former National Commission for Minorities chief Tarlochan Singh today asked the government not to deviate from the practice of reserving the top post of Punjab and Sind Bank for Sikhs after media reported that the Prime Minister''s Office had raised questions in this regard.

"I request you kindly not to deviate from the promise made by Indira Gandhi and allow to have a suitable Sikh from central services to head the P&SB Bank," he wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

A section of the media reported that the PMO has raised questions over the practice of reserving the Chairman and Managing Director''s post for Sikhs despite the bank''s nationalisation three decades ago.

He said then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had assured Sikhs in 1980 that the government will always appoint a Sikh as the CMD to keep the "Sikh character" of the bank after the community protested its nationalisation.

"For the last 30 years, this assurance has fully been honoured. When there was no suitable Sikh available in the banking cadre, I as Chairman of NCM and MP proposed to the successive Union Finance Ministers to have an appropriate IAS officer to head the bank.

"I am thankful to Jaswant Singh, P Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee who were very kind to agree to continue the existing practise," he said.

He said the government was committed to helping the minorities and "here is a case which is highly sentimental to the Sikh community." PTI SJY

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