Mumbai: Eyebrows were raised in political circles here on Friday when news of the Maharashtra government's standing guarantee for a loan of Rs 147. 79 crores for a sugar factory in the cooperative sector controlled by Congress leader Ashok Chavan became public.
The Maharashtra State Central Cooperative Bank has sanctioned the loan with a guarantee from the BJP-Shiv Sena (Shinde)-NCP (Ajit Pawar) coalition government in the state. The state cabinet had cleared the proposal last month. Several factories controlled by ruling parties' politicians have received largesse from the government. But, the government giving a guarantee to a factory controlled by a senior Congress leader like Ashok Chavan has got tongues wagging. Mr Chavan is a former chief minister and controls the Bhaurao Chavan Co-operative Sugar mill in his home district of Nanded in the Marathwada region.
Politicians have been traditionally controlling sugar factories in the cooperative sector because that gives them hold over lakhs of can growers who form a significant segment of the electorate in rural Maharashtra.
Earlier, there was strong speculation that Mr Chavan, who is a son of the late Congress veteran S.B. Chavan, may defect to the BJP like so many other opposition leaders. But, Mr Chavan had stoutly rejected these reports and had expressed his total loyalty to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. He belongs to the Maratha community and is fairly influential in Nanded district.