Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused the BJP government of selling public sector banks to “cronies”, which he said is compromising the country’s financial security, as employees of public sector banks (PSBs) held protests against the Centre’s proposal to privatise two lenders. Mr Rahul Gandhi also backed the protesting bank employees, who are on their second day of the strike.

“Government of India is privatising profit & nationalising loss. Selling PSBs to Modicronies gravely compromises India’s financial security,” Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet. “I stand in solidarity with the striking bank employees,” he said.

Several banking services such as cash withdrawals, deposits, cheque clearances, remittance services have been hit during the 2-day strike. Government transactions related to the treasury as well as business transactions have also been impacted.

Unions claimed about 20 million cheques/instruments worth about 16,500 crore were not cleared across the country. Many ATMs were also out of cash on the first day itself.

The 2-day nationwide strike of bank employees & officers, which started on 15th March, has been called by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine unions, to protest against the government’s decision to privatise two more state-run banks.

Finance minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement last month of privatisation of 2 public sector banks as part of the government’s disinvestment plan in the Union Budget for the next fiscal has provoked discontentment among the bank employees.

Members of UFBU include All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Officers’ Association (AIBOA) and Bank Employees Confederation of India (BEFI). Others are the Indian National Bank Employees Federation (INBEF), Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC), National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO).

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