Appoint a Sikh as CMD, ex-MP writes to PM
Amritsar January 31:
Former chairman of the National Commission of Minorities (NCM) and former MP Tarlochan Singh has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to appoint a “suitable Sikh” from Central services to head Punjab and Sind Bank (P&SB).
His request has come in view of the recent media reports that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has raised questions over the practice of reserving the P&SB chairman-cum-managing director’s job for a Sikh despite the bank’s nationalisation three decades ago.
In his letter to the PM dated January 24, Tarlochan said: “The bank was founded in Amritsar by leading Sikh intellectuals and religious leaders to help the Sikh community. In 1980s, when this bank was nationalised, there were protests from Sikh leaders and at that time the then PM Indira Gandhi had given them an assurance that the government will always appoint a Sikh as the bank’s CMD to maintain the Sikh character of the bank. This assurance has been fully honoured for the past 30 years.”
According to him, when there was no suitable Sikh available in the banking cadre he, as the NCM chairman, proposed to the successive Union Finance Ministers to have an appropriate IAS officer to head the bank. He expressed his gratitude to Jaswant Singh, P. Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee who continued the existing practice while urging the PM not to deviate from the promise given by Indira Gandhi. “Your government is committed towards helping the minorities and here is a case which is highly sentimental to the Sikh community,” he concluded.
The post of Punjab and Sind Bank CMD has been lying vacant since GS Vedi’s retirement in June last year. According to sources, with no senior Sikh banker available to fill the post, the Finance Ministry is processing the proposal to appoint a Punjab cadre IAS officer to head the bank. Sources said the ministry had sent DS Bains’s name for the post. Interestingly, this is not the first time that questions are being raised on appointing a Sikh to the top post.
The scenario was no different last year too, but in view of protests from the community, the government decided to initiate the process for zeroing in on a Sikh bureaucrat for the job. The bank has traditionally been led by a Sikh except for a few instances where non-Sikhs were given the responsibility as an interim arrangement.