Cooperatives in Maharashtra have emerged as the cause of corruption and electoral irregularities. These cooperatives in the states’ rural economy are controlled by political parties, thereby regulating the voting pattern of the villagers. But very recently Amit Shah, Union Home, and Cooperation Minister declared that the Centre is going to introduce a new cooperative policy soon. This has unnerved the political leaders who are in control of these cooperatives. The NCP, Congress stalwarts controlling such cooperatives are brazenly shaping the states’ cooperative movement and also ensuring their win in the election by means of arm twisting the poor villagers.
HOW DO THE BARONS CONTROL THE CO-OPERATIVES?
There are various types of cooperatives in the state, Let’s take the example of Sugar Cooperatives.
To control the people who work in the factory or work in the field the barons use various methods. If the political leader who is in control of the cooperatives finds that the people are in favour of a rival politician, the crushing of the sugar cane is not undertaken, thus putting the field workers and growers in untold misery. The same method is followed in Milk cooperatives to teach a lesson to the people who do not toe their line.
The politicians sitting at the helm of the cooperative banks similarly reject loan applications of the villagers whom they find are supporting the rival party candidate.
Law in Maharashtra allows only one sugar factory in a radius of 50 kms. Thus everybody involved in the factory or in growing the cane comes to depend on the single sugar factory and naturally on the hegemony of the baron. The unique way of controlling the villagers is to offer a job to a member of every family in the factory and thus tie them up and make them dance asper the leader’s whim.
SWINDLING THE STATE FUNDS
These politicians rope in the state to be the guarantor when these cooperatives take loans from the cooperative banks in case their projects become unviable. As a guarantor the state govt will have to pay as of today, 2000 crores to bail them out.
BJP’S MOVE AND HOW IT MAY GAIN
BJP has hinted to bring in new law ostensibly to set right the huge irregularities in these cooperatives but actually, they are targetting to break the hegemony and control of the political leaders. By creating a separate Ministry of cooperatives, the centre is aiming to break the nexus of the NCP and Congress in these cooperatives. Political analyst Ravikiran Deshmukh analyzes the BJP move and points out that a lot of cooperatives are situated in Western Maharashtra and it is an NCP stronghold. He says that the Centre may use NCDC ( National Cooperative Development Corporation) to control the finances and loans, thus the possibilities are that the leaders may join the BJP.
This political hegemony and control and corruption in the cooperatives must end. Compelling people to vote for a specific party or a leader is unfair out and out. It is surprising how these irregularities have continued so long. BJP’s step is in the right direction. The BJP must see that these cooperatives must rid of these methods of controlling the people and Indulging in another type of corruption even if the leaders jump the ship and join BJP.