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Graft probes: After NCP, CM Fadnavis goes after Congress leaders

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After granting the go-ahead to probe graft charges against senior NCP leaders, the BJP-led government in Maharashtra is now focussing on allegations of graft against Congress leaders.
On Tuesday, the home department, headed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, asked the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to probe the role of former Congress minister Harshwardhan Patil and legislative council member Amrish Patel in an alleged cooperative bank scam.
Following Tuesday’s nod, the file recommending an “open inquiry” into the matter has now been forwarded to Chief Secretary Swadhin Kshatriya. After his approval, the proposal will be placed before Fadnavis for a final clearance.
The Chief Minister had earlier allowed ACB to launch probes into allegations of graft against former NCP ministers Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare, and Chhagan Bhujbal. Indicating that he would not stand in the way of proposals to probe allegations of corruption, Fadnavis also cleared proposals placed before him for open inquiries against senior civil servants.
The ACB had sought permission for an open inquiry in the alleged cooperative bank scam in September after its preliminary investigations found merit in allegations of corruption raised on the issue.
Ironically, Dhule’s BJP legislator Anil Gote is the complainant in this case. The controversy centers around allegations of misappropriation of Rs 144 crore in the Dhule District Cooperative Bank, of which Patel is a former director. Gote has alleged that the cooperative bank incurred heavy losses and state exchequer was hit because of sanctioning of unsecured loans and financial irregularities when Patel was at the helm.
Harshavardhan Patil, who held the Cooperative portfolio during the previous Congress-NCP regime, is under the scanner for extending a stay on action against Patel and the then directors of the bank, when bureaucrats in his department had also recommended action against the bank’s office-bearers.
“The ACB’s preliminary investigations suggest that the stay was questionable,” a senior state official said. Besides the Congress leader, the role of NCP leader Rajvardhan Kadambande is also under the scanner, according to sources. While Patil had earlier distanced himself from the controversy and rubbished allegations against him, Gote has alleged foul play by Patil in the matter.

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