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Maharashtra gears up for next big political fight: elections for thousands of cooperative bodies

Elections are due for 45,000 cooperative bodies, whose tenure expired in December 2020. Delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, the elections will now be held post March.

Written by Partha Sarathi Biswas | Pune |
February 6, 2021 8:56:12 pm
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After the gram panchayat elections, the next big political battle in Maharashtra will be for control of the many cooperative bodies in the state. District central cooperative banks, sugar mills and spinning mills are some of the important cooperative institutions which will go to polls in the next few months.

Elections are due for 45,000 cooperative bodies, whose tenure expired in December 2020. Delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, the elections will now be held post March. The commissioner of cooperative elections is busy finalising the schedule for the polls, which will be held in phases.

District central cooperative banks of Pune, Nanded, Satara Kolhapur, Sangli, Akola, Gadchiroli, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Jalgaon, Nashik, Osmanabad, Dhule, Beed, Parbhani, Latur, Thane, Mumbai, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg will vote for a new board of directors, while elections will also be held in 48 cooperative sugar mills and 66 spinning mills.

Due to the changed political situation in the state, the efforts to gain control for cooperative bodies is bound to be eventful. Among the many cooperative institutions, the electoral fate of sugar mills, district central cooperative banks, urban cooperative banks and spinning mills would be keenly followed, given the political power play in these bodies.

Since the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress came together at the state level to keep BJP out of power, the three parties have accommodated each other in subsequent elections. The Maha Vikas Aghadi had fought elections for the recently held Legislative Council seats and defeated the BJP. The gram panchayat elections had also seen the three bodies joining hands.

Elections for some of the bodies, including those for district central cooperative banks of Ahmednagar, Beed, Osmanabad and Jalgaon, promise to be interesting given the stakes involved. Former Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who had defected to the BJP before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, will try to retain control over the bank in Ahmednagar. Similarly in Beed, cousins Pankaja and Dhananjay Munde are expected to fight for control of Beed bank.

The political fight for the control of many sugar mills in the state is expected to be particularly intense. Some mills — Vaidyanath Mill in Beed, Ashok Mill in Ahmednagar, Chhatrapati Bhavaninagar Mill in Pune and Chhatrapati Rajaram Mill in Kolhapur – are set for an interesting electoral fight, given the political equations involved. While the Munde cousins will fight for control of Vaidyanath Mill, the political fight in Ahmednagar will be over control of Ashok Cooperative Mills.

Chhatrapati Rajaram mill in Kolhapur is, meanwhile, controlled by members of the Mahadik family, who have switched over to the BJP. Congress and NCP leaders in the district are aiming to get control of the mill back from them.

Before the Covid-induced lockdown, work on preparation of electoral rolls had started. Cooperative bodies whose rolls have been finalised will go for elections in the first phase. It is expected that the complete programme for elections to the 45,000 bodies will be completed by 2022.

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