Just a few minutes were left for Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to arrive to inaugurate Punjab National Bank's (PNB) 6,001st branch here on Sunday, when branch manager C.D.R. Gunaseelan raised a crucial doubt: “Where should I sit when the Minister visits my cabin?”
In no time, T. Latha, the bank's Deputy General Manager and Tiruchi Circle head, familiar with the Minister’s style of functioning during such inaugurals, replied: “You please remain in your seat. The Minister and our CMD (K.R. Kamath) will sit before you. You need not offer your seat to the Minister.”
Not only Mr. Gunaseelan, but all the managers of the five different bank branches, that were inaugurated by the Minister over the last two days, were taken aback when they saw the Minister sit before them like any other customer of the bank to enquire about the prospects and wish them good luck.
“It was a dream come true. He enquired with me about the foodgrains produced in the locality and was happy to know that I was a graduate in agriculture,” said M. Balakrishnan, manager of Oriental Bank of Commerce’s branch at Milaganur village in Manamadurai Taluk.
He was ecstatic over having had a chat with the Minister and the bank’s Chairman-cum-Managing Director S.L. Bansal over a cup of tea when they had come to inaugurate the branch on Saturday. So was R. Thanasekar, manager of PNB’s Alangudi branch inaugurated on Sunday.
The Minister did not stop with that. He also made it a point to introduce the branch managers to the local people during individual public meetings organised in nearby grounds after the inauguration of every bank branch and urged them to boldly demand loans from the officers.
While introducing A. Patturaja, manager of Indian Bank’s Manamadurai branch, Mr. Chidambaram said: “He is in search of a house on rent in your locality. I request you all to help him in finding a good house. He would stay here and serve you all to the best of his ability.” During the introduction of Mr. Balakrishnan, the Minister said: “He has taken a house on rent at Manamadurai. But he has a scooter and he will come to your village promptly every day. So, do not keep your money at home. Deposit it in his branch and withdraw it at your will from the ATM.”