Mumbai: Maharashtra’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government has ordered the state’s 31 district cooperative central banks (DCCBs) serving 11 million members to go for online recruitment using an outside agency, in a blow to rival Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) that dominates the state’s vast and lucrative cooperative sector.

A government resolution (GR) issued on 15 June directed all DCCBs to immediately stop offline recruitment “that has been found to have been influenced by extraneous factors" and go in for an online recruitment system to restore “transparency, efficiency, and credibility".

The government also asked each DCCB to appoint a competent and registered human resource agency through competitive bidding to conduct online recruitment. Among other criteria, the agency must have executed the recruitment contract for at least five nationalized or scheduled banks or government departments.

The GR says recruitment at DCCBs currently follows service rules fixed by a state-level task force at the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) and a circular issued by the Pune-based commissioner and registrar of cooperatives. A senior BJP minister, who did not wish to be named, told Mint that several DCCBs have flouted these rules and carried out recruitment to “suit their local political interests".

“Some of the appointments are totally at variance with the service rules fixed by the state-level task force. These rules issued in 2016 do not ask for online recruitment procedure but they accord priority to qualifications, efficiency, and the need to recruit competent staff at cooperative banks to help them compete with the nationalized and private sector banks," the minister said.

He said the government had received several complaints about offline recruitments. “A preliminary probe carried out in 2017 revealed that several DCCBs have not followed a transparent, competitive, and clean recruitment procedure," the minister said. What confirmed the findings of the preliminary probe was a report by Nabard’s Committee for Assessment & Human Resources of Short term Cooperative Credit submitted in October 2017, an official at the state’s department of cooperation said, requesting anonymity.

“The report calls for recruiting tech-savvy, competent, and qualitative staff at cooperative banks to help them meet the social banking mandate of the government and also compete with other banks. But the recruitment that some DCCBs carried out in 2016 and 2017 hardly meets these criteria. On the contrary, extraneous factors like local political interests, nepotism, and even caste considerations have been found to be the main qualifications for recruitment," the official said.

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