Two Fold Crisis for BJP

While Fadnavis government is facing criticism from ally Shivsena over Nanar Chemical Project in Konkan, banking uproar have also not done anything good for Maharashtra BJP

By Prabhakar Kulkarni

The tussle between the BJP and Shivsena in Maharashtra is continued without any sign of settlement. Nanar project in Konkan region is a severe bone of contention as Sena has been consistently adamant in its stand to oppose the project while the chief minister has signed the agreement with the concerned company in Saudi Arabia and Hindustan Company. Shivsena chief Uddhav Thackeray has denied meeting with Union minister of Petroleum, Dhamendra Pradhan when the latter came forward to meet and convince him about the necessity of the project. The BJP has also to face another crisis in the banking sector when chief of Bank of Maharashtra Ravindra Marathe was abruptly arrested by Pune police on charge of doing favor to the distressed DSK group in sanctioning loan when other banks had denied in the matter. But the arrest was carried out by Pune police without any intimation to the state home secretary or the state chief minister and that too without any intimation to the RBI or Union finance minister who are the only highest authority in regard to matters relating to nationalized banks. The chief minister has constituted a committee to find out the truth in the matter and how and by whose order of an authority Pune police have dared to arrest Marathe and other bank officials who are under the control of the Union government and the Union finance ministry.

In its fresh editorial ‘Samana’, Shivsena has analyzed the reasons why Nanar chemical project is being opposed. The poisonous effluents emanating from the project are not only fatal to the environment in the Koankan region destroying fruit crops and export-quality production of mangoes and other fruits but also spreading grave diseases like cancer, asthma and other lung diseases. The editorial points out that people in the region have categorically opposed the project and statements signed by local people are already submitted to the chief minister. Why then the project is being forced against the consent of people in the region? A question is asked. Describing the issue as ‘Nanar Emergency’ the editorial voices Sena’s determination to fight against the project even facing force and bullets and accepting any challenge and eventuality for protection of Konkan and its surroundings which are national and international tourists’ attraction.

While action by local Pune police against the chief and other officials of the Bank of Maharashtra has created commotion among the banking circles, both its illegality and also political angle is being rightly discussed in media and among experts knowing legal aspects of the banking transactions as also police code of conduct. This is more so because the BoM officials are providing relevant information to police in the much-publicized DSK case which is in the police file because of the investor’s complaints. There was no complaint against the BoM in general or against any individual officials in particular. How police can take action against the said officials without any complaint against them? This is the vital question. In the discussion in the banking circles as also in the Indian Banks Association’s (IBA) deliberations it is suspected that some political motive may be behind the police action. According to local media interpretation, this is interpreted as a politically motivated strategy to raise a crisis before the BJP government in Maharashtra in general and the CM Fadnavis in particular.

In larger political scenario there is a growing movement in the state against the ruling BJP government at par with the national movement to align anti-BJP forces or parties and to stage a massive movement against the ruling BJP in the Centre and the states. Inside Maharashtra a state level movement in tune with the national anti-BJP movement is in full swim and Congress-NCP, Left parties and a group of RPI led by Prakash Ambedkar and other groups are united to fight in a democratic process of elections. While the open challenges are in full screen of TV channels and also pages in local print media, the undercurrents of political strategy are so hidden that they need interpretation instead of open presentation.

The gravity of the police action is more significant in view of the fact that chief of the BoM Ravindra Marathe is also chief of the state level co-ordination committee of bankers formed to let bankers co-operate with state expectations of finances to needy borrowers in various sectors in the state and more so in the farm sector. In recent state level meeting the CM Fadnavis was aggressively vocal in his dissatisfaction in delaying and denying crop loans to farmers and warned of some action if nationalized banks continue to deny crop loans to farmers. In Yeotmal area where farmers suicides were highest three collectors have taken action against nationalized banks by withdrawing government funds and in a way almost punishing the local bank mangers for doing disservice to needy farmers. In other areas district collectors are using the same threat and action as the bank managers are not responding to farmers expectations. This indicates a sort of confrontation between state government and nationally controlled nationalized banks and their non-cooperative local managers. After the collectors’ threat and the action, bank managers responded to the demand of crop loans and farmers were provided with the facility immediately. Why then the crop loan provision was so far delayed and denied to farmers? If they responded after the threat it may be interpreted that their decision to neglect frames was a matter of policy rather than due to any other reason. Is this anti-farmer policy was nurtured only at the branch levels? Or the banks boards were behind it? And if the boards had adopted the negative policy what was the motive and was it a political strategy motivating the economic decision being exploited for political interests? These questions need clarification and the IBA should find out the truth.