Former legislator Pravin Darekar’s induction into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not seem to have helped him. The non-bailable case registered against him by the economic offences wing of the Mumbai police for alleged irregularities of around Rs 123 crore in the Mumbai District Cooperative Bank may put the former MNS leader in deep trouble. Sources say the case against him is very strong.
Incumbent chairman of the Mumbai District Cooperative Bank, Darekar was inducted into the BJP as vice-president of the party’s Mumbai unit, soon after the party formed a government in the state. Some leaders in the party, however, were against his inclusion in the party, as he had several corruption cases pending against him.
The party leadership, however, was convinced by some ministers who said that he would prove beneficial for the party, if it wanted to make its foray into the cooperative banking sector. There was infighting in the Mumbai unit over Darekar’s entry into the party.
“Eyebrows were raised after huge banners were put up by Darekar recently, wishing state BJP unit chief Raosaheb Danve on his birthday. Sensing that he was trying to get close to Danve, some others in the party decided to cut Darekar down to size. Otherwise, it would not have been possible for Vivekanand Gupta, Mumbai secretary of the party, to pursue the matter against Darekar,” said a leader, on condition of anonymity.
Sensing impending trouble after the case was filed with the police, Darekar made desperate attempts to meet chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, in hope of his intervention. According to sources, though Fadnavis – who is also home minister of the state – met him on Friday after much persuasion at various levels, Darekar did not get any assurance of support.
“It was a mistake on part of the party to induct Darekar, as the case was foolproof and the report submitted to the cooperative department by the district deputy registrar (DDR) held him guilty on various counts. It would be impossible for the party or the CM to back him in this situation,” said the leader.
The DDR has reportedly held the office bearers of the bank directly responsible for financial misappropriations. The report speaks of irregularities in appointment of security agencies, purchase of equipment, and setting up of branches at unauthorised premises.
The case against Darekar could determine the results of the election to the 21-member board of directors of the bank, which will be held in May. Almost all political parties have jumped into the fray, including Shiv Sena.
BJP Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shelar said, “Though the case has been filed, the charges are yet to be proved. Darekar has not yet been held guilty and we expect chief minister Fadnavis to take appropriate steps.” He added that the issue should have been resolved at the party level, as the complainant is a party functionary.