Maharashtra Cong MLA moves privileges notice against SBI chief

The opposition Congress party in Maharashtra is raising hell against State Bank of India chairperson Arundhati Bhattachary for expressing reservations over farm loan waiver schemes of various state governments.

The SBI chief made the comments on Wednesday, ahead of the recently concluded assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP had promised to bring in a loan waiver scheme for farmers in the state, if its voted to power.

Onn Friday, the Congress moved a notice of breach of privilege of the Maharashtra assembly against Arundhati Bhattacharya, for her comments against farm loan waivers.

Leader of the opposition in the assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, moved the notice under the Maharashtra Legislature's Section 273, before speaker Haribhau Bagade.

Vikhe Patil in his notice said that the loan waivers are necessary to check the spate of farmer suicides across the country, with Maharashtra alone accounting for 8,000 farmer suicides in the past two years.

"The people of Maharashtra have been demanding a complete farm loans waiver package and the issue has been repeatedly raised in the legislature in the past few days. In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has assured it will take a decision on loans waiver in the very first cabinet meeting," Vikhe Patil said.

According to the MLA, Bhattacharya's public comments that indiscriminate loan waivers "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" amounted to aggravate farmers' woes.

Vikhe Patil said the SBI chief was "a public servant" and not "a policy-maker" for the country or the state – that legislators decide policies.

He said, since Bhattacharya has no right to decide on loan waivers, she also has no right to comment on legislators' decisions on waiving off farm loans.