The election for the controversial Mumbai District Central Co-operative Bank in May will be the arena for an interesting political battle, which will see the Shiv Sena pitted against the combined forces of the BJP, NCP, MNS and Congress.

Despite graft allegations, Pravin Darekar said the BJP is solidly behind him. File pic
Despite graft allegations, Pravin Darekar said the BJP is solidly behind him. File pic

The BJP and the Sena’s rocky alliance had seemed to head towards stabilisation just last week, with the parties having decided to contest the Navi Mumbai and Aurangabad municipal elections together. Then, on Tuesday evening, CM Devendra Fadnavis had campaigned for Shiv Sena candidate Trupti Sawant for the Bandra East bypoll.

That very afternoon, however, 21 candidates of Shiv Sena’s Shiv Prerna panel had filed their nominations with the returning officer of the Mumbai Bank as the co-operative institution is popularly known pitting themselves against the incumbent panel led by the bank’s chairman and BJP’s Mumbai vice-president Pravin Darekar, whose name had appeared in an FIR last month for allegedly causing losses to the tune of Rs 123 crore to the bank.

Despite the taint and the complainant being BJP Mumbai secretary Vivekanand Gupta, Darekar claims that his party is solidly behind him. The other members of the Shakhar Panel led by Darekar are Shivaji Nalwade from the MNS, Prasad Lad from the NCP and a few others associated with the Congress. These parties are also expected to throw their weight behind their candidates.

According to Darekar, he had approached Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to nominate three members from his party to the panel, but the latter had refused. Darekar claims that this is the first time in a co-operative bank election that a political party has nominated an entire panel of its own members against a panel comprising members of all other political parties.

“We have members from all parties, including Dhangat of Congress. I had asked Uddhavji to nominate three members to our panel, but I think he wanted to go it alone and has, hence, set up an entire panel sponsored by the Shiv Sena,” said Darekar, adding that Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar would be announcing BJP’s support to him and his panel in a day or two.

‘Will expose graft’
The Shiv Sena claims it is fighting the elections independently because it wants to expose the corrupt practices that certain members in the bank are engaged in. Captain Abhijit Adsul, who filed the nomination as part of the Sena-sponsored Shiv Prerna Panel, said, “We are contesting and members of our panel have filed their nominations. We will win and work has already started. We do not know who is against us, what we want is to get the maximum-possible candidates from our panel elected.”