Mumbai: BJP leaders refuse to work with 'tainted' Pravin Darekar

The decision to have Pravin Darekar recently inducted into the BJP from the MNS in the party’s official panel for the upcoming Mumbai Bank elections was met with stern opposition from senior MLAs and other leaders

The city BJP unit is divided over working with former MNS man Pravin Darekar, whom the party had inducted last month despite him being accused of corruption in a cooperative bank he currently heads.

The BJP is looking to wrest power in the cooperative bank and expects Pravin Darekar to help it win majority in the elections to the 21-member board of directors. File pics City BJP chief Ashish Shelar denied any objections were raised against Darekar, and said the party high command would take a final call on his role.The BJP is looking to wrest power in the cooperative bank and expects Pravin Darekar to help it win majority in the elections to the 21-member board of directors and City BJP chief Ashish Shelar denied any objections were raised against Darekar, and said the party high command would take a final call on his role. File pics

A group of senior BJP leaders, who had levelled charges against Darekar, told the city unit chief, Ashish Shelar, on Monday to keep the former MNS legislator out of the party’s official panel which will contest the polls to appoint the board of directors to the Mumbai District Cooperative Bank (Mumbai Bank) in May this year.

mid-day’s January 13 report on Darekar’s entry into the BJP
mid-day’s January 13 report on Darekar’s entry into the BJP

In the run up to the Assembly polls last year, the BJP had demanded a probe in an alleged scam of Rs 412 crore in the Mumbai Bank, of which Darekar is the chairman.

It was alleged that the bank’s board had appointed directors and employees in an illegal manner and caused losses of Rs 412 crore by selling bank shares, giving loans, and illegally investing the bank’s deposits in the Madhya Pradesh Industrial Development Corporation.

The Shiv Sena, too, had asked the then Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to dissolve the board of directors of the bank. mid-day had reported on Darekar’s joining the BJP fold on January 13. Denying allegations, Darekar had told this paper that “the state government was satisfied with his reply” and had cleared all accused of all allegations. Darekar was made the city BJP’s vice-president after his induction.

Crucial polls
The BJP high command now wants to wrest power in the cooperative bank worth Rs 6,000 crore, and expects Darekar to help it win majority in the 21-member board of directors. When the issue came up for discussion at the party’s meeting at Housing Minister Prakash Mehta’s residence Monday evening, several leaders told Shelar that they would not work with Darekar in the bank elections.

More than 17,000 members in cooperative and individual categories are set to vote in the elections. Prominent leaders who raised objections included senior MLAs Raj Purohit (Colaba) and Yogesh Sagar (Charkop), Mumbai north district president J P Mishra, and secretaries Niranjan Shetty and Vivekanand Gupta. They questioned Darekar’s credentials and wondered why bank members would vote for a panel associated with him.

They asked Shelar to field the party’s official panel without Darekar’s candidature in the bank elections. City BJP secretary Vivekanand Gupta had filed a complaint with the city police’s Economic Offences Wing against Darekar and some directors of the bank. Gupta is still pursuing the case that was lodged last year.

Leaders, who attended Monday’s meeting, confirmed the development, but refused to come on record because of disciplinary reasons. They said the matter was kept pending for the party high command’s approval. When contacted, Shelar said no such issue was raised in the meeting. He, however, said the final decision on Darekar’s role in the bank elections would be taken by the party high command.

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