By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Sep 25 (IANS): The Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, Pravin Y. Darekar, "is a ‘crore-pati labourer who has allegedly mis-declared his professional credentials in his election affidavits", claims a criminal complaint lodged with the Ghatkopar Police Station against the Bharatiya Janata Party leader.
The complainant, Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM) Chairman Kishore Tiwari, accorded a MoS status, raises certain uncomfortable questions to Darekar.
A former Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) MLA from 2009-2014, Darekar is currently a BJP MLC since 2016, appointed Leader of Opposition of Upper House since 2019, and is also shown as the Chairman of Mumbai District Central Cooperative Bank (MDCCB) or Mumbai Bank, comprising the categories of representatives of registered cooperative societies.
In the police complaint, Tiwari said Darekar is said to be a member of the ‘Pratigya Mazur Sahakari Sanstha' (PMSS) Ghatkopar, a labour cooperative society, on the basis of which he is represented as a director with the Mumbai Bank, and as fulltime Chairman since 2015.
However, in his statutory affidavits in Form 26 for the two elections Darekar has stated on oath his profession and that of his wife Sayli Darekar as ‘independent business', Tiwari contended.
"This is blatantly false and a misleading declaration on the basis of which he was elected to the house on both occasions. He is looting the government through full salaries, allowances, honorariums and privileges, and as LoP now even enjoying a Cabinet Minister rank, and at the same time availing the coveted position and perks of Mumbai Bank," Tiwari said.
Despite repeated attempts by IANS, including a brief questionnaire, there was no response from Darekar or his team in the matter.
Elaborating on the recently-emerged revelations, the Shiv Sena's farmer face accused Darekar of pretending to be a ‘labourer', and through the PMSS as a voter at the MDCCB or Mumbai Bank.
Even his wife and one of his brothers are proclaimed ‘labourers' and as the PMSS representatives are voters in the same Mumbai Bank, as per the police complaint.
"Can the honourable LoP explain whether he and his family members are ‘daily wage earners', or have they misused the ‘labour' tag to snatch positions and swindle the government," Tiwari pointedly asked.
"This is an extremely serious matter as all positions were gained based on fraudulent or fictitious documents and false declarations. I urge the Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the Union Cooperative Minister Amit Shah, Enforcement Directorate and others to probe and initiate criminal action," said a grim Tiwari.
He pointed out that as per the Supreme Court, the affidavit of a election candidate or Form 26 filed during the nomination can be used as evidence to prosecute in case of a cognizable criminal offence.
Moreover, the Maharashtra government's Model Rules for labour cooperative societies define a labourer as a person whose main means of subsistence is manual labour, he pointed out.
"From this it is clear that Darekar is primarily disqualified as a ‘labourer' and hence all the pay, perks, facilities, concessions he was given till date amounts to cheating the people and defrauding the government coffers that attracts criminal action," he said.
Currently, one or more cases are pending pertaining to the alleged scams in the Mumbai Bank since 2014-2015.
Tiwari demanded that Shah and Thackeray order an immediate enquiry through the concerned agencies, book Darekar and conduct the trial in a fast-track court as per the mandate of SC, failing which he would file a PIL int he court.