Cong-NCP alter APMC election rules to regain control of cooperative sector

Fadnavis government amended Act in 2017 to give farmers the right to elect the board
With the NCP-Congress back in power, they plan to go back to earlier electoral methods, which they see as beneficial for their rural and semi-urban party base.(HT/PHOTO)
With the NCP-Congress back in power, they plan to go back to earlier electoral methods, which they see as beneficial for their rural and semi-urban party base.(HT/PHOTO)
Updated on Jan 24, 2020 04:25 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | By

The Uddhav Thackeray-led government on Wednesday, scrapped a decision taken by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, pertaining to elections to the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMC).

The previous government had amended the Maharashtra Agricultural Produce and Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act, 1963, in 2017 to give farmers the right to elect the members and chairperson of APMC in their area, where they sell their produce. The MVA government will issue an ordinance to cancel this provision and go back to the older procedure where members of gram panchayats, multi-purpose co-operative societies and agriculture credit societies, elected the APMC board.

The electoral changes were seen as a bid by the BJP-led government to break the stronghold of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-Congress in the co-operative sector and local bodies. With the NCP-Congress back in power, they plan to go back to earlier electoral methods, which they see as beneficial for their rural and semi-urban party base.

While scrapping BJP’s decision, Thackeray clarified that the APMC does not have enough funds to conduct elections in time.

A senior officer from cooperative department requesting anonymity said, “If the BJP-led government used the cooperative sector to cause a dent in rival Cong-NCP’s support in western Maharashtra, the two parties, that are now a part of the MVA are looking to reverse the effect and regain its control by undoing the decisions taken by the previous government. The ruling party is using the cooperative sector for its own political interest. There will be more changes in the coming days.”

Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said, “The success of Cong-NCP lies in keeping a hold on this sector. If anyone wants to make a career in politics, they must have a hold on sugar and cooperative banks sector.”

The Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune APMC did not have an elected president , with the new ordinance in place, elections will be held and leaders from the Cong-NCP will get a chance to lead this institute.

Other changes expected

A former cooperative minister requesting anonymity said the MVA government is likely to change the administrator of the MSCB bank. Currently, Vidyadhar Anaskar is the chairman of the administration board and was appointed by Fadnavis. “Soon, Anaskar will be asked to resign and a party member, who could not make it to the cabinet will be appointed for this key position,” he said.

MVA sow the seeds in rural Maha to uproot BJP

The Maha Vikas Aghadi is attempting to loosen the BJP’s base in the rural and semi-urban areas in the state.

A decision to scrap two key decisions taken by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, pertaining to elections to the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMC) and municipal councils, is a move in this direction.

On January 22, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray allowed members of gram panchayats, multi-purpose cooperative societies and agriculture credit societies, to elect the APMC board. Under Fadnavis, only farmers were allowed to vote.

Similarly, for municipal council elections, corporators will vote for the president of their municipal council.

Earlier, the municipal council was elected by the people and despite Cong-NCP having a majority in the said house, the council president was elected from the BJP; for instance Karad municipal council.

Earlier, on January 15, the MVA took the decision to scrap the panel system, wherein two to three members were being elected from one ward in municipal councils.

On December 5, the MVA cancelled the guarantee of over Rs 300 crore taken by the seven sugar mills controlled by the BJP, citing that these mills do fit the criteria for government guarantee.

According to local political observers, if there are more members in one panel, the BJP benefits from it, however, if there are less members in one ward, it benefits the other parties who have proved their mettle in the last five years.

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