Cong, NCP ministers behind Maharashtra Cooperative Bank's fall?

Mumbai: The alliance between the Congress and the NCP in Maharashtra has been jolted due to the storm surrounding Asia's largest cooperative bank. Reserve Bank of India dissolved the board of the powerful Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank, which had NCP chief Sharad Pawar's son Ajit as one of its directors, based on a NABARD report on the bank's finances which shows how factories controlled by politicians including cabinet ministers from the Congress and NCP took loans worth hundreds of crores and never paid back.

The list includes names like former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and Higher Education Minister Rajesh Tope are among Maharashtra's sugar barons whose families are linked to the fall of the Asia's largest cooperative bank.

Among the loan defaulters is a spinning mill controlled by Congress MLC Amrish Patel, which owes the bank Rs. 182 crore; a sugar factory controlled by the family of Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil which has not repaid a loan of Rs. 175 crore; a sugar factory controlled by the family of former CM Ashok Chavan which still owes Rs. 31 crore; Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam's factory which has not paid bacl nearly Rs. 100 crore and a factory controlled by Water Resources Minister Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar which has defaulted on a laun of Rs. 16 crore.

The bank has pinned the blame on the state government. "The losses the bank is facing is because the Government has not released the guarantees that it owes us," said the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank director Jayant Patil.

This statement is on the same lines as the one made by Sharad Pawar hitting out at the Congress-led government. ''I don't think the bank's management has done anything wrong. They were told to give these amounts; they were given guarantees by the state government," Pawar had said on Monday.

Now the state-appointed administrators take over the functioning of the bank, which might mean trouble for the state's sugar baron whose names have been included in the NABARD list.
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