Charged for fraud, BJP leader Pravin Darekar now Mumbai district central co-op bank president

CHARGED IN a case of using bogus membership of the labour society to get elected as a director of Mumbai District Central Co-operative Bank (MDCCB), BJP leader Pravin Darekar on Friday was unanimously elected as the bank’s president.

NCP leader and former president of the bank, Siddharth Kamble, will now work with him as vice-president of the bank. The financial institution will now be run by the BJP-NCP while these two parties continue to play opposing roles in state politics.

In May, during the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, an FIR was filed against Darekar, who was then the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, for using bogus membership of a labour society to get elected as a director of the bank though he was not a labourer.

Following the change in the state government, Kamble and vice-president Vitthal Bhosle of BJP had resigned after which a meeting of the board of directors of the bank was held on Friday in which Darekar was elected unopposed.

“We rectified the wrong. It is important that all political parties should work together for the betterment of the bank. That’s why I requested the cooperation of Kamble ji and he agreed. He is a close aide of Ajit Pawar and we are sure that we will take this bank to new heights,” Darekar said.

Despite requests, Darekar did not reply to questions about the chargesheet against him and whether it is morally right to take up the responsibility with a case pending against him. The BJP leader had headed the bank in the past as well.

In terms of the number of board directors, BJP was ahead with nine members — Pravin Darekar, Vitthal Bhosale, Anand Gad, Kavita Deshmukh, Vinod Borse, Sarod Patel, Nitin Bankar, Anil Gajre, and Prasad Lad. NCP has eight directors — Sandeep Ghandat, Shivajirao Nalawade, Puroshattam Dalvi, Vishnu Gamare, Siddharth Kamble, Jayshree Panchal, Nandu Katkar, and Jijaba Pakhar. Shiv Sena has three — Sunil Raut, Abhishekh Ghosalkar and Shilpa Sarpotdar.

In January, NCP and Sena joined hands to ensure that Kamble is elected as the president defeating BJP’s Prasad Lad.

Dhananjay Shinde of Aam Adami Party (AAP), who has been in the forefront in filing a case against Darekar and has filed complaints with the co-operative department and police, said that the development is a result of an alliance between corrupt directors. “Each one of them is saving the other and they are not bothered about the bank and its money,” he said.

Out of 21 posts of directors, 20 are filled presently as Darekar, following allegations of using bogus membership of labour society, chose to withdraw from contesting the election from the labour society category and instead fought the election from urban bank category.

The FIR was registered on a complaint filed by Shinde, who had accused Darekar of defrauding the government and the MDCCB. Shinde, in his complaint to the police, had alleged that Darekar worked as the president of the bank for years. He added that in 1997, Darekar registered himself as a labourer in Pratidnya Labour Cooperative Society and subsequently, got registered at the bank.

He has been contesting elections for the post of the director under the labour category since, alleged Shinde. In April, the HC had granted anticipatory bail to Darekar in connection with an FIR registered against him by the Mumbai Police on charges of cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust in a bank fraud case. The HC continued the interim protection from time to time.

Shinde said that he will continue to pursue the matter of bogus labour societies and also the Rs 2,000 crore scam which even the Reserve Bank of India has taken note of. “Darekar should have been disqualified. Instead, he is now the president of the bank. We will pursue the matter until its logical end,” he said.