From the Viewsroom

Message to Pawar’s lieutenants

Radheshyam Jadhav | Updated on October 02, 2019 Published on October 02, 2019

NCP chief Sharad Pawar   -  PAUL NORONHA

The ED threat looms over Maharashtra’s NCP, Congress workers

The Enforcement Directorate’s moves against NCP chief Sharad Pawar send out a direct message to cooperative satraps, who are the backbone of NCP and Congress politics in the State. The ED has registered a money laundering case purportedly involving the NCP leader and about 70 former functionaries of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB) to probe an alleged ₹25,000-crore scam.

Maharashtra is a leading State with regard to the cooperative sector network. The cooperation movement, that was mainly confined with agricultural credit, has rapidly spread into agro processing, marketing, housing, dairy, storage, textile, finance, fishery and even into industries. Agri credit co-operative banks have a three-tier structure. In this case, the MSCB is the apex body, the District Central Co-operative Banks work at the district level and Primary Agricultural Credit Societies at village level. This financial structure, the lifeline of rural Maharashtra, is under the Congress and NCP’s control, and Sharad Pawar is its face.

After Yashwantrao Chavan and Vasantdada Patil, two Maratha stalwarts and former CMs who led the cooperative sector, it is Pawar who has dominated the cooperative scene for decades. Congress-linked parties, including the NCP, groomed political dynasties who control district and taluka cooperatives and expanded their kingdom to education and industries. The BJP’s and the Shiv Sena’s Hindutva politics is still somewhat weak in rural areas, especially in the region where the NCP-Congress hold the reins of the cooperative fabric. Except for a few leaders like Nitin Gadkari, BJP or Sena leaders have traditionally shown little interest in joining the cooperative movement in rural areas. However, since 2014, the saffron parties have opened doors to NCP and Congress satraps; despite the fact that many of them face serious charges of embezzlement. With the ED dragging the Maratha strongman into the probe arena, his remaining lieutenants have got the carrot-and-stick message that the BJP-Sena might have liked to send.

Radheshyam Jadhav, Deputy Editor

Published on October 02, 2019
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