Indira’s nationalisation of banks saved country during recession, says Pranab

Politicians

Remembering Indira Gandhi, the Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee saluted the former Prime Minister for putting into effect a policy which faced severe criticism in those days — the nationalisation of banks.

At a Kisan Credit Card (a central government scheme) distribution camp organised by the United Bank of India (UBI) at Sagardighi, in Murshidabad district on Sunday, Mukherjee said the government will continue to hold majority stake in public sector banks, even as it disinvests stakes in public sector companies.

"Today is a historic day since it was on this day that Indira Gandhi decided to nationalise 14 scheduled commercial banks for the first time. With this historic decision started the nationalisation of banks about 40 years ago. It was decided that the government would have a majority control over banks for public accountability. We have stuck to the policy. Even with pressure from all corners and political parties, we have not opened up our banking sector completely to the private sector or market forces," said Mukherjee, while distributing 7222 Kisan Credit Cards today.

Mukherjee stressed that the Centre has retained the ownership of public sector banks and will continue to do so regardless of the odds. According to him, despite any policy of disinvestment, at least 51 per cent stake in the banks will remain with the government.

As part of the central government scheme, today's credit delivery loan camp disbursed loans amounting to Rs 45 crore. The finance minister said that with agriculture being the mainstay of the economy, more bank finance should flow to the sector.

"We will come out with an initial public offering in the last quarter of the current fiscal year," said S C Gupta, chairman and managing director, UBI. While recalling that there used to be a time when banks were considered to be facilitators for big industrialists like the Tatas and the Birlas, Mukherjee hailed the efforts of the Congress and Indira Gandhi in conceptualising the setting up of rural banks.

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