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‘Shetty built the bank, Modi closing it," a placard held by a protestor read.

A protest was held by several organisations supported by Congress and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) in Mangaluru against the decision to merge Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with Bank of Baroda on Thursday evening. The protestors decried the union government's decision to merge Vijaya Bank and raised concerns that it will limit job opportunities for people from Mangaluru and Karnataka in the bank.

"After the merger, the key positions in the bank will be held by people working with Bank of Baroda. This will limit jobs and affect people from Mangaluru and Karnataka. There is definitely Tuluva pride that is hurt by this. People like Attavar Balakrishna Shetty and Sundaram Shetty founded this bank here and there is an emotional connect with the bank for people here which should be preserved,” Muneer Katipalla, DYFI State President told TNM.

The protest was supported by the Congress party as well, which opposed the Cabinet approval given for the merger of the bank. A placard at the protest read ‘Shetru Bank Kattidru, Modi Bank Muchchisidru’ which translates to "(Sundar Ram) Shetty built the bank, Modi is closing it.”

Ivan D'Souza, a Congress MLC from Mangaluru, called upon MPs from the state to protest against the merger of the bank during the Parliament session. The protesters in Mangaluru also turned their ire on Naleen Kumar Kateel, MP from Mangaluru, for failing to prevent the merger of a bank historically linked to the coastal city.   

Vijaya Bank was established by a group of farmers led by Attavar Balakrishna Shetty on Vijayadashami day in 1931 (hence the name 'Vijaya'). The bank was nationalised in April 1980 when it had opened 571 branches in the country.

There were reports earlier that the merger of the three banks would be done in a way that all three banks could retain their identities. However, when the merger was eventually announced in December 2018, the Bank of Baroda retained its brand identity while Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank ceased to be separate legal entities.

Officials at Vijaya Bank have previously clarified that the merger would not lead to layoffs within the bank. "The combined business will be more than Rs 16.5 lakh crore; that will be the total business. I am sure there is good potential to grow and we shall be the second biggest public sector bank and third compared with all the banks operating in India," RA Sankara Narayanan, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Vijaya Bank told Moneycontrol.

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