Members of opposition parties staged a protest during an annual general body meeting of a cooperative bank here on Sunday morning demanding transparency while inducting new members/shareholders in cooperative institutions across Tamil Nadu.

It is after five years that the annual meeting of the Tambaram Urban Cooperative Bank has been convened. Cadre from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Congress protested that the meeting was convened in a hurry and without proper information provided to even long-standing members of the 17,000-strong body.

“Application forms have not been made available to the public. The membership to the bank is possible only with the support of cadre of the ruling All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam,” alleged S.R. Raja, former Tambaram MLA, who led the protest.

A majority of those present at the meeting were furious that the bank was functioning in an arbitrary manner under pressure from the ruling party. The authorities then decided to postpone the meeting. Mr. Raja recalled that the bank, established in 1954, had a deposit of Rs. 4 crore around 1991 and during the DMK regime, it increased to Rs. 40 crore. It has now dipped to Rs. 36 crore, he added.

R. Krishnamurthy, Tambaram Area Secretary of CPI (M), said that as per RBI rules, it was mandatory to hold elections once in at least 10 years and if this was not done, it could affect not only the cooperative institutions, but also the State government. Induction of new members was currently on, but the process completely lacked transparency.

“The ruling party activists want to have many new members from their side. ‘En masse’ induction of members in a short period is a violation of rules,” Mr. Krishnamurthy pointed out.

According to him, problems were not restricted to just a few societies or banks, but nearly all cooperative institutions in the State

Animal Husbandry Minister and Tambaram MLA T.K.M. Chinnayya, however refuted allegations of high-handedness on the part of the Department of Cooperation or the ruling party. “There was no arm-twisting in the entire process.There was a complaint that adequate number of forms was not available and it was heeded to,” added Mr. Chinnayya.

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