After Janata Sahakari, another co-op bank fight for PMC salary accounts in Pune

While Janata Sahakari Bank’s vice-chairman acknowledged the bank’s affiliations to the RSS, the PMC Servants Co-operative Urban Bank also wants PMC salary deposits

pune Updated: Nov 02, 2017 15:06 IST
Abhay Khairnar
Abhay Khairnar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Janata Sahakari,co-op bank,PMC salary account
Pune, India - Oct. 28, 2017: Janata Sahakari Bank at Sinhagad road in Pune, India, on Saturday, October 28, 2017. Reporter Abhay Khairnar (Photo by Pratham Gokhale/Hindustan Times)(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

Even as the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has given permission to open salary accounts in Janata Sahakari Bank, the Pune Municipal Corporation Servants Co-operative Urban Bank has also demanded that it be allowed to open salary accounts of PMC employees.

The PMC Co-operative Bank recently wrote to municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar and mayor Mukta Tilak pointing out that the bank has a glorious history of 104 years and is running in profit. “This is an employees bank and is working for their interest. Since the PMC has allowed a co-operative bank to open salary accounts, this bank should be also considered for the same purpose,” the bank said in its letter to Kumar.

All attention now rests on the meeting promised by mayor Mukta Tilak, the date for which is yet to be announced.

Last week, the PMC’s general body was rocked over the civic body’s decision to allow its 18,000 employees to open salary accounts in the Janata Sahakari Bank Ltd, a cooperative bank under the strong influence of the RSS.

Opposition leaders questioned this decision, with Congress leader Arvind Shinde pointing out that the PMC had adopted a resolution some years ago against depositing salaries and opening FD (fixed deposit) accounts in co-operative banks.

Replying to this, municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar stressed that the opening of salary accounts “is not mandatory, but voluntary.”

Not satisfied with this reply, the opposition turned aggressive with its questions, upon which mayor Mukta Tilak assured to call a meeting with opposition leaders in her office.

The issue relates to a directive by PMC’s chief accounts and finance officer Ulka Kalaskar, on October 25, on the instructions of municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar. The total salary bill of around 18,000 employees of the PMC works out to nearly Rs.600 crore annually. Although the civic administration stated that this was a “voluntary option” before the staff, a section of the opposition leaders and employees refused to accept it at face value.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Kalaskar said, “This is a voluntary option and not mandatory. The employees will take a call whether they want to open their salary account in Janata Sahakari Bank for their convenience. If they opt for this bank as their preferred choice, the PMC will deposit their salary in that account instead of the Bank of Maharashtra.”

The introduction of a cooperative bank for depositing salary accounts has come as a surprise as PMC salaries have been deposited in Bank of Maharashtra, the Pune-headquartered nationalised bank, for nearly 35 years now.

Speaking to HT, Janata Sahakari Bank’s vice-chairman Jagdish Kadam acknowledged that the bank had strong links with the RSS and this could become an issue for the opposition. “It is true that given our affiliation to the RSS, the oppositions may raise questions on the PMC circular. However, the bank has strong credibility and even Congress leaders have accounts in our bank,” he said.

Elaborating, he said: “The bank requested the Pune Municipal Corporation to allow salary accounts to be deposited with it. Our bank’s performance is good and it is a Pune-based bank. The PMC took cognisance of our request and allowed opening of salary accounts in this bank. It depends entirely on the employees. Janata Sahakari Bank is already collecting various PMC taxes and co-operative banks are giving good service to customers.”

The bank, which was established in Pune on October 18, 1949, proudly declares its RSS affiliations on its website. It states: “An award has been instituted in the memory of Late Moropant Pingale, an RSS Pracharak, the main inspiration in the establishment of the Bank.”

The website states that as a policy, this annual award is presented to an institution and not to individuals engaged in social service.” The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is among the past recipients of the Late Moropant Pingale Smruti Janata Bank award.’

Every year, the bank celebrates RSS founder Dr Keshav Hedgewar’s birth anniversary and extends financial support to various ‘Sangh Parivar’ institutions such as Vanwasi Kalyan Ashram, Golwalkar Guruji Smruti Seva Prakalp and Dharmajagaran Samanvay Vibhag.

Speaking during the 2011 Moropant Pingale awards presentation ceremony, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat appreciated the performance of the bank and said, “This bank was once in the red. However, they have now scored a healthy profit. This was possible because of the bank’s strength of character, which is an intrinsic Sangh value.”

Inaugurating the bank’s e-newsletter last year on April 8, BJP’s Maharashtra spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said that the bank “is functioning on the principles of the RSS.”

First Published: Nov 02, 2017 15:05 IST