Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cash-for-MP, but with a difference

The Saraswat Cooperative Bank definitely knows how to express gratitude and maintain healthy relations. The bank is toying with the idea of donating Rs 2 crore of its Rs 202 crore profit to the Shiv Sena's kitty as a gesture of appreciation for nominating two of its directors as Members of Parliament.

At the bank's annual general body meeting on July 5, its former director S M Ghotoskar made an amendment saying that the bank should consider making a donation of Rs 2 crore to the Sena. "The Sena ensured two of our directors - Suresh Prabhu and Eknath Thakur - were made MPs. The bank is indebted to the party and it is only fair to repay," Ghotoskar said.

In his amendment, Ghotoskar pointed to the Multi-state Cooperative Societies Act (under which the bank is governed) rule that profits need to be distributed under various heads, including making donations. He cited the example of Jan Kalyan Sahakari Bank, which donated Rs 50 lakh to the BJP after its former director Ved Prakash Goyal was made a Union minister by the party.

Prabhu was the Union minister for power in Atal Behari Vajpayee's cabinet. Thakur - a former Rajya Sabha MP - was present during the AGM, but did not speak on the amendment regarding donations to the Sena. Interestingly, Thakur was elected chairman of Saraswat Bank on July 19, replacing Kishore Rangnekar, who has been demoted to the post of deputy chairman. "It is a strange decision since the term of a chairman in office is five years. Rangnekar had been chairman only for three years," officials said.

Sources also say that Saraswat Bank, which is the largest urban cooperative bank operating in six states, has provided each of its 17 directors with a luxury car. "This is available to the director round the clock and throughout the year," a bank member said.

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