More than 23,000 farmers from Maharashtra have killed themselves in just eight years since 2009. At a time, when state government’s historic farm loan waiver is yet to reach more than 38 lakh farmers of the state, Latur’s guardian Minister and state’s Labour Minister Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar’s BJP patronage has made him lucky to get a loan settlement of whooping Rs 51 crore.
Nilangekar, who in 2016 secured himself a seat in Fadnavis’s cabinet, is listed as one of the guarantors of M/S Victoria Agro Food Processing Pvt. Ltd, a company that floated in 2008.With a plan to set up a grain based distillery, the company had grabbed a loan of Rs20.99 crore from Bank of Maharashtra and Rs 20.51 crore from Union Bank of India in 2009. Though, they paid the interest amount for initial two years, but from 2011, the company failed to pay the interest and the principal amount. While, the interest amount were Rs 21.75 crore and Rs 16.40 crore for individual banks, the unpaid interest and the primary loan amount had accumulated to nearly Rs 76 crore and the loan got declared as a Non-Performing Asset (NPA).
In 2014, the banking securities and fraud cell of the CBI filed a case of criminal conspiracy against the company that is led by Nilangekar’s brother-in-law in partnership with another individual. The chargesheet that also named Nilangekar in it, also highlighted charges like tampering of mortgage deed of land, offered as collateral for the loan and substituting it with property of a smaller size and lesser value.
Former Congress MLA Madhu Chavan expressed, “Both central and state governments are frauds. Many BJP ministers are engaged in forgery. This government is a relative of Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi. PM Narendra Modi and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis are also not an exception. Our Chief Minister gives clean chits to all its fraudulent ministers. BJP government is making people fool with their false promises. I am sure Congress is going to win the next elections and will run a good administration.”
Meanwhile, in 2015, both the banks rejected the Victoria Agro Food Processing company’s full and final settlement offer of Rs 41 crore. However, in 2018, the same banks have got convinced to give the company a relief of close to Rs 51 crore. Now, amidst all these hue and cry what persuaded Union Bank of India and Bank of Maharashtra in just three years to become so generous, remains open to questions!
Being at the fore of all these allegations, Nilangekar noted, “All the necessary legal procedures have been followed in the case. The one time settlement has been reached with the two banks. And there is no violation of any law.”
A fugitivelist of loan defaulters including Vijay Mallya (Rs 9,000 crore), Nirav Modi (Rs 12,600 crore), Mehul Choksi, Lalit Modi and so on, is enough a testimony for the misfortune of Indian taxpayers’ money, the Indian banking system and moreover the central government.Despite that, the Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government is reckless and confident enough to shut its eyes from financial scandals and give clean chits to its corrupt leaders.
BJP spokesperson Avadhut Wagh argued, “This is a case between Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar and banks. Banksare corporate individual authorities; they areauthorised to taketheir own decision and thestate government has nothing to do with bank transactions or settlement. Allegations by opposition parties are baseless. Nilangekar is just a guarantor of the loan and he is not involved in it. Secondly, if banks feel something suspicious, they are free to investigate.”
On the last day of the budget session of the state assembly, referring to allegations on Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar, the Chief Minister said, “Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar was only a guarantor. The settlement was done as per RBI norms under RBI policy. He did not take the loan himself. It’s not right to defame a young minister like this.”
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said, “The Chief Minister is claiming that Patil is only a guarantor. But Patil has a major share in that company. He is the one responsible for this fraud. He has misused power and CM is supporting him!”
A politician from Latur on the condition of anonymity said, “He has cheated the banks by submitting documents of a single land twice for the mortgage. He exploited farmers by buying their lands at cheaper costs and also promised them to give jobs. Though he claims to be only a mere guarantor of the company, he is its director and producer.”
“The property mentioned in the mortgage, also belongs to his cousins. Despite that, he intentionally ignored their consultation on the matter. He created fake documents and stamps for the purpose. Our demand from the government is either famers’ loan waiver or Nilangekar’s resignation.”
Afternoon Voice spoke to a farmer from Dhanegao, Latur district; under the condition of anonymity he expressed, “All those who got loan waiver are BJP and Nilangekar apostles. They fetch crowd for his rallies and some of them also have good rapport with him.”
The nation is yet to give justice to the real poor and the devastated farmers. However, ruling party affiliated politicians like Nilangekar are enjoying all the perks of power while the banks harass the hapless farmers and count their every penny. Have these nationalised banks become the beneficiaries of Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya and politicians? These questions are yet to be answered.