The Maharashtra government has sent show-cause notices to 44 politicians, mainly heavyweights of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) such as Ajit Pawar and from the Congress, barring them from contesting polls to co-operative bank boards for 10 years.
This came days after the BJP-led government amended the Maharashtra Co-operatives Act, 1966, and dissolved the boards of several loss-making co-operative banks following instructions from the Reserve Bank of India.
“Boards of most of these banks were disbanded in the past decade because of political mismanagement such as giving bad loans to their own at the cost of depositors. In public interest, such people will now be barred from contesting elections to such banks,” a senior bureaucrat said.
Besides Pawar, notices were sent to NCP leaders and former ministers Vijay Sinh Mohite Patil and Hasan Musharif as well as the Congress’s Satej Patil, Madhukar Chavan and Dilip Deshmukh. They were directors of the Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank when it was dissolved.
Notices have also gone to directors of other banks, including some in Kolhapur, Nasik and Sangli.
The action triggered political uproar as the Opposition called the ordinance biased while some leaders moved court against the ordinance.
The government denied any political motive behind the move to clean up the co-operative banking sector.
“Notices were sent to only those who continue to be active in the sector and are functioning on the board of other banks,” an official clarified.
For instance, Pawar, who was chairman of the MSC Bank continued to be a director of the Pune district co-operative bank in his home district. He will now not be able to contest polls to either of these.
This is considered a huge setback for most politicians who depend on their control over co-operatives — banks or sugar mills — to dominate rural politics.
The action came soon after the enforcement directorate raided properties of senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal and his family members in a money laundering case while the CBI sought permission from the Maharashtra governor to prosecute former chief minister Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh Housing Society scam.