Even though the Congress has welcomed the Reserve Bank of India's decision to dissolve the board of directors of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank – controlled by political heavyweights in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – it doesn’t want to come across as the villain in the agrarian crisis.
Sources said the party wanted to ensure that the bank was able to provide loans to affiliated cooperatives ahead of the rabi season.
Hence, the Congress has decided to go easy on its ally. The NCP is expected to devise a counter-strategy in its executive meeting on Thursday.
“I will comment only when the NCP says something tomorrow,” state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said on Wednesday. “We will wait and watch, but I’m confident that there is no threat to the alliance.”
However, the Congress’s subdued approach may not go well with the party’s rank and file. Senior leaders admitted that the Congress had never been so upbeat ever since they formed a coalition with the NCP.
Thakre confirmed that the Congress did not want to stretch the matter further. “Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar will meet soon to resolve differences, if any, over the bank-related matter,” he said.
Pawar had accused the Congress high command of hatching a political conspiracy of superseding the NCP-led bank board.
Sources close to Chavan told the Hindustan Times that the CM had instructed the RBI-appointed bank administrators — senior bureaucrats SK Goel and Sudhir Shrivastava — to come up with a plan after discussions with senior bank officials.
The officials will meet on Saturday to see that affiliated cooperatives are not denied loans and financial assistance.
Giving loans to affiliated district banks will be crucial because of the forthcoming elections in the 27 zilla parishads. And since the Congress and the NCP are not likely to join forces for these polls, the former doesn’t want to offend farmers who form a major part of the electorate.
A senior Congress functionary said the Congress think-tank was expecting a major offensive from the NCP. “The war between the two will continue, but nobody knows how it will culminate,” he said.