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The Times of India
The Times of India
Clara Lewis | TNN

Politics at play? BJP man back to helm Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank

MUMBAI: BJP's Pravin Darekar was elected chairman of the Rs 10,000-crore Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank, one of the richest cooperative banks in the state, on Friday. Six months ago, Darekar was forced to resign from one seat on the bank's board of directors as he had falsely represented himself from the labour category. He said he owed his return to the intervention of deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, who recently discussed the issue with NCP's Ajit Pawar.

In board elections this January, Darekar had filed his nomination under two categories: labour and urban cooperative bank category. He won in both categories.

His election under the labour category was challenged by Dhananjay Shinde of AAP, citing contradictions with his disclosure in his election affidavit for the legislative council in 2017. Darekar had then declared himself a businessman. Shinde also alleged misappropriation of bank funds to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore.

Fadnavis intervenes, Darekar back at helm of co-op bank

Pravin Darekar, who was recently re-elected to the legislative council on a BJP ticket and is likely to be a cabinet minister, has been elected as chairman of the Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank. He attributed it to the intervention of deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis.

Darekar had been forced to resign six months ago after the joint registrar, cooperatives, upheld the complaint by AAP's Dhananjay Shinde and struck down Darekar's nomination under the labour category. Further investigations were ordered in the misappropriation claim.

Darekar subsequently resigned his labourer seat but continued on the board under the urban cooperative bank category. Shinde has vowed to continue the fight to expose him.

The government changed in June and Fadnavis recently held a meeting with NCP's Ajit Pawar, who is also the opposition leader in the legislative assembly, to discuss the issue of chairman and vice-chairman of the bank.

"The leaders and workers have now come together. Fadnavis advised that the post of chairman and vice-chairman be recast. Accordingly, NCP's chairman (Siddharth Kamble) and BJP's vice-chairman (Vithal Bhosale) resigned. The 20 board members sat together, and it was decided that I should be the chairman and Kamble the new vice-chairman," said Darekar.

AAP's Shinde said the chairman and vice-chairman had been asked to resign last week. Re-election was held on Friday and Darekar was elected unopposed.

"A person who has been misleading and looting the bank for several years and has been exposed as misrepresenting the labour category has been made chairman by BJP, which exerted pressure to carry out the change. This has been done when an FIR has been filed against him and he has been charged under 78 sections of the IPC, including cheating. We shall continue the fight," he said.

After Darekar quit from the bank's board, the number of members reduced from 21 to 20. The representative from the labour category is yet to be appointed.

On Friday, Darekar said: "The board has members with different political affiliations, yet it has functioned smoothly as one unit without any problems. Regardless of which government was in power, we worked together and took the bank to Rs 10,000 crore. Only in the last six months, owing to politics, things went awry. During elections some things may have happened but our affection for each other is strong."

Last week, Darekar withdrew his plea from the Bombay high court challenging the order of the joint registrar of cooperative societies disqualifying him from membership of a labour cooperative society.

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