In the wake of the formation of a separate Cooperation Ministry under Home Minister Amit Shah by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Sunday said the Central government could not meddle in the functioning of Maharashtra’s cooperative sector.
“All the cooperative societies in the State are governed by the Maharashtra State Cooperative Act. The laws are passed in the State Legislative Assembly and Council. Under this Act, only the State, and not the Central government, has the right to frame policies and enforce them in the sector,” said Mr. Pawar.
His much-anticipated remarks come in the wake of speculation that the motive behind the BJP-ruled Centre’s decision to form a new cooperatives’ Ministry was to break the NCP’s stranglehold over Maharashtra’s cooperative sector, thereby attenuating the party’s political hold.
“The rules of the Central and State governments are well-demarcated. They cannot interfere in each other’s jurisdiction. The Centre’s role is restricted only to multi-State cooperative banks. I have been seeing reports speculating that the the creation of a separate cooperation Ministry was solely to undermine or regulate state cooperatives. But such assumptions are baseless,” Mr. Pawar said.
While stating that the concept of a Cooperation Ministry was not novel, the NCP chief said, “I was the Union Minister for Agriculture for nearly a decade in the UPA government. The Cooperation Department was under the Agriculture Ministry then.”
In a riposte to Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole’s strident indications of his party “going alone” in future elections in the State, Mr. Pawar, whose party is allied with the Congress and the Shiv Sena in the State, said that he preferred not to respond to “lesser men” like Mr. Patole.
Commenting on the vacant post of the Speaker in the State Legislative Assembly, he said, “All three parties have decided that the new Speaker will be from the Congress. We will all support whatever the Congress decides about the Speaker’s post.”