Things are getting curiouser and curiouser with each passing day on NCUI’S campus on August Kranati Marg in N Delhi which houses the apex consumer co-op body NCCF. The fight is between the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and the Board of NCCF on the issue of who would be the Managing Director of the apex consumer co-op body.
As the fight between the ministry and NCCF has deteriorated rapidly, often police personnel are seen on the NCUI campus. The Ministry’s effort to foist its own appointee as MD is being resisted by the NCCF members.
While the Ministry has appointed Anil Bahuguna a Joint Secretary in the Ministry to take over as the MD, the BoD of NCCF headed by veteran cooperator and former MLA Bijender Singh refuses to accept him or for that matter anybody appointed by the Ministry without the nod of the Board.
The bye-laws are clear that only the Board can appoint an MD, several Directors said to Indian Cooperative in concert. The Board has appointed the officiating MD Saukat Ali as the new Managing Director after Kamal Chaudhary.
The fight reached a crescendo on Saturday evening when the Ministry officials came to NCUI campus along with a posse of police men forcing their entry into the office and allegedly taking away files.
A source close to NCCF said when the PS to the Chairman, Delhi State Cooperative Bank went to lodge a police complaint against this trespass, the local SHO refused to register the complaint hinting at “pressure from the top”.
When Indian Cooperative contacted Bijender Singh, Chairman of NCCF to know his reaction on the development, he sounded reluctant to speak. “It is not good for me to talk now as the matter has absolutely gone the way it should not have in the first place”, he added.
But he admitted that the Board has indeed not ratified the appointment of Anil Bahuguna and instead promoted Saukat Ali-the officiating MD as a regular MD. It was the Board’s resolution which is sound both in terms of co-op act and NCCF Bye-laws, he underlined.
Anil Bahuguna who has been a govt nominee so far wanted the Board to ratify his appointment quoting tradition, NCCF sources say. Interestingly, Bahuguna even cancelled a cheque given to him as the Govt nominee. He did so in the capacity of MD even when the BoD is yet to accept his appointment.
The fight between the Ministry and cooperators has been brewing for a long time. On May 1, NCCF wrote to the Ministry reminding it of the fact that the govt has less than 50 per cent share and that of NCCF is more.
On Monday, NCCF made a smart move returning the government share but the govt is not willing to accept the same, said a top cooperator connected with NCCF. “With the return of the share, the Ministry loses right of having two Directors on the NCCF Board”, said a cooperator. In fact, it cannot have even one now on the Board, he quipped.
As the daggers are drawn between the ministry and the NCCF Board, police presence is a regular feature at the NCUI campus. ‘Several ministry officials including two Joint Secretaries, directors and of course Anil Bahuguna are mostly seen on the campus”, allege NCCF sources.
It bears recall that the consumer cooperative federation shifted its headquarters last year to the sprawling campus of NCUI as a renter from its Nehru Place office from where it was finding it difficult to operate.
Besides Bijender Singh, other members on the NCCF Board include Virendra Singh, Chandra Pal Singh Yadav, Vaghji Bhai R. Patel, D.N. Thakur, Yashpal Singh, Vishal Singh, Dr. S. Gnanamani, Anil Bahuguna, C. Panneer Selvam and M.P. Pavan Kumar, according to NCCF websites.