Governor’s assurance on J&K Bank: Did political parties over-react for their own sake?

  • JAVAID MALIK
  • Publish Date: Dec 9 2018 11:56AM
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  • Updated Date: Dec 9 2018 11:56AM
Governor’s assurance on J&K Bank: Did political parties over-react for their own sake?File Photo

Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik announcing that the state government would re-examine its decision that made J&K Bank accountable to the state legislature and the word Public Sector Undertaking has no legal connotations evoked quick response from the mainstream political parties in the state. National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and Peoples Conference welcomed the Governor’s assurance and projected it as a “big victory” for the people of the state.

J&K Bank has been in the news for quite some time now. Governor Malik during an interview to a news channel on October 27 this year had claimed that previous PDP-BJP government changed complete selection list of 582 candidates in Jammu and Kashmir Bank and appointed political workers at the place of deserving candidates. “Forty youth approached me saying they had cleared all examinations and figured in the selection list of Jammu and Kashmir Bank but were replaced by relatives and workers of political parties. I called the Bank Chairman. He told me that the number was not 40 but all 582 youths recruited by the Bank had been replaced with the political appointees, recommended by the leaders from every constituency. I asked the Bank Chairman to give the youth their due. I also called the Finance Secretary and finally a resolution was adopted and all 582 candidates have been given appointment letters,” he had said. 

Since that day J&K Bank has been under scanner as the Governor’s administration took a serious note of the “recruitment scam” and tightened its noose around the Bank. The State Administrative Council issued an order to bring J&K Bank under RTI and made it accountable to legislature. The order also stated that J&K Bank would function as a Public Sector Undertaking.  

SAC’s decision triggered a row. All the political parties reacted sharply and asked the Governor to reconsider the decision. The Governor decided to re-examine the decision after meeting the representatives of the J&K Bank employees association. 

Immediately after the Governor made the announcement mainstream political parties expressed happiness over the assurance. None of these parties waited for the Jammu and Kashmir government to issue a formal order in this regard and went out of way to praise the Governor.   

An analyst said, “What made mainstream political parties react in so much haste. These parties should have waited till the Governor’s administration would have issued a formal order in this regard.”    

He said that politicians should understand that they cannot take people for a ride by raking the issues and then dousing the flames.  “Is it that mainstream politicians don’t want to annoy New Delhi and its representatives in the state? They know it very well that key to power in J&K lies with Centre and any issue cannot be dragged beyond a point,” the analyst added.

It looks like that Governor Malik by pointing out the flaws in the functioning of the Bank has tried to drive home a point that political interference has turned the J&K Bank into a political institution. Politicians, who are beating their chest today, should sit back and introspect what they did when they were in power. “It’s an open secret that whichever political party has come into power in the state it has always tried to control the J&K Bank,” said an observer.

He said that there is no doubt about the fact that people of the state are emotionally connected to J&K Bank as this institution has helped almost everyone in Jammu and Kashmir. “People share an emotional bond with this Bank,” the observer added.    

He said the J&K Bank besides helping common people has provided jobs to hundreds of youth.

Recently the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference President Dr Farooq Abdullah claimed that the Government of India has been eyeing the Bank for a long time. “The designs to take over the J&K Bank have been in pipeline for a long time even when I was the CM. They haven’t succeeded till now but probably in the Governor’s rule they thought they would succeed,” Dr Farooq said.  “I remember when I was in the office of then Home Minister L K Advani along with deputy chairman of planning commission, they were saying the bank is not good it is going down and it should be taken over. Luckily Business Standard published a complete report on the bank performance and showed how good it was. I sent those reports to them and I am glad that the then deputy chairman of the planning commission spoke to me on the phone and said his information was wrong.” 

Dr Farooq insisted that J&K Bank should remain an autonomous body and the Governor’s administration should allow it to function normally.

A critic said, “The mainstream politicians are behaving like a bunch of powerless people who have no say and cannot do anything to save J&K Bank from going into the hands of the Centre.” 

Mainstream parties should put their act together rather than just reacting to the situations. The Governor’s administration has just given assurance that the SAC order would be re-examined and has tried to downplay the issue of J&K Bank being turned into PSU. So there is nothing much to feel elated as the Governor’s administration has to issue a formal order in this regard. The Governor should allow the new elected government to decide the fate of the J&K Bank and put this controversy to rest.