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Mamata writes to PM against merger of UBI, Allahabad Bank

CM calls decision ‘a hidden agenda’ against Bengal

Mamata writes to PM against merger of UBI, Allahabad Bank

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, protesting against the Centre's 'unilateral' decision to merge two national banks headquartered in Kolkata, keeping the state government in the dark.

Referring to the manner in which the merger has been carried out as 'a hidden agenda' of the Centre to target Bengal, she has requested the Prime Minister not to go ahead with the move.

"I'm deeply concerned to learn that two public sector banks headquartered in Kolkata are being merged with banks headquartered in Delhi and Chennai respectively, without any consultation with the state government or with the management of these two banks," she wrote, adding that in a federal structure it is imperative to consult the state government and political parties before taking such a decision.

According to her, the merger of United Bank of India (UBI) with PNB and Allahabad Bank with Indian Bank will "affect the developmental momentum" of the state. The Chief Minister has also raised her concern over the future of thousands of employees of these banks. Allahabad Bank was formed in 1865 in Kolkata and has 562 branches, while United Bank of India was set up in 1914 in the city and presently has 875 branches.

"With the surprising merger, the large number of branches in Bengal will be put at risk. My apprehension arises from the fact that all direct benefit schemes and social and economic development expenditure go to the beneficiaries at the grassroot level through the banking system in our state," she wrote.

Banerjee has requested the Prime Minister to reconsider the decision that she termed as hasty and asserted, which can "result in insurmountable difficulties for people".

"I would therefore strongly urge you not to merge UBI with PNB and Allahabad Bank with Indian Bank and thereby also raise the spectre of moving the headquarters of these two leading banks out of Kolkata. Kindly do not deprive Bengal like this," her letter reads.

It may be mentioned that during SBI's merger with associated banks, 1,500 branches were closed across the country, 80 of which were in Bengal.

"My legitimate fear is of Bengal facing branch closures and thereby cutting off of banking services to our people…My fear arises from the fact that out of 80,000 employees of the associated banks merged with SBI, 3,500 employees had no option but to take voluntary retirement," she wrote.

She expressed her apprehension that the headquarters of UBI and Allahabad Bank may be shifted to Delhi (PNB) and Chennai (Indian Bank). "This will be a serious blow to the employees and banking activities of UBI and Allahabad Bank," she maintained.

The All India Bank Officers Confederation has also written to Banerjee in this connection.

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