The United Democratic Front won a tenuous hold over Ernakulam District Cooperative Bank (EDCB) in Sunday’s elections. But the question that surfaces now is whether ‘political experiments’ marring the cooperative sector as alleged by the bank’s former president M. M. Monaye and factionalism within the Congress (I) will disrupt the functioning of the new board of directors.

The question assumes significance considering the EDCB’s emergence as a steadily growing and profit-making entity over more than 25 years under the Left Democratic Front.

During the period, a firm leadership ensured that the bank’s total business crossed Rs. 5,000 crore, of which Rs. 3,600 crore were deposits.

Factionalism will not take the bank anywhere, says K. P. Baby, one of the new members of the board and president of Mookkannoor Service Cooperative Bank.

By factionalism he does not mean quarrels within the Congress (I) but the possibility of differences of opinion among the new board of directors, on which the LDF has nine members and UDF 10.

Whoever is elected president is immaterial, he says about the process of selection of the new president, slated for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, rumour mills are already churning out reports that the bank’s five-year presidentship may be shared equally between the ‘A’ and ‘I’ factions of the Congress.

Mr. Baby’s rival for the top post is N. P. Paulose, president of Maneed Service Cooperative Bank, near Piravom.

The near balance of power between the LDF and the UDF within the new board may have a positive impact in possibly making the bank’s operations more transparent, says the president of a hospital cooperative in Kochi.

However, former president Mr. Monaye feels that the cooperative sector is being increasingly marked by “political experiments” rather than experiments in developing the spirit of cooperation.

He says the UDF rule in the past too was marked by dismissals of elected boards and creation of “paper cooperatives” to win over cooperative banks, an allegation refuted by Mr. Baby.

He says the UDF had only promised to bring neglected cooperatives into the mainstream democratic process.

On the other hand, the Left Front claimed that the EDCB was already serving what they now described as “paper cooperatives”. More than 650 new cooperatives were given voting rights at Sunday’s elections. If they were paper organisations why had the LDF claimed that the district cooperative bank was serving them, asks Mr. Baby.

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