C R Patil: tainted cop, bank defaulter, and now MP?

Tainted cop to PSU boss to wannabe MP, it has been quite a journey for Chandrakant R Patil (55), BJP candidate for Navsari this Lok Sabha polls. Patil was suspended from the police for his alleged involvement in illegal liquor trade in dry Gujarat, and even jailed for failing to repay hefty loans to a cooperative bank. But now, he will make his debut at the hustings this year.

His story begins after he joined the Surat police in 1975 as a constable. He first courted trouble after a liquor hoard was recovered from a bootlegger's house in Palsana taluka in 1978 and his name cropped up in the police records as one of those involved.

The same year, another prohibition case was registered against him at the Songadh police station. Patil was arrested by the Surat police Task Force and was finally suspended for six years from the job.

He remained clear of more trouble for a while, though police sources allege that his dalliance with the illegal liquor trade continued. Patil resumed his police job in 1984 and soon invited another suspension : this time for trying to form a police union. Later, he allegedly came into contact with the then-rampant octroi evasion racket, with the backing of some textile mill owners. The Surat Municipal Corporation charged a case of octroi evasion against him in 1995. Meanwhile, politics beckoned, and Patil joined the BJP in 1990. In four short years, he became the Surat district president.

In 2002, the Crime Branch arrested Patil as the chief defaulter in the Diamond Jubilee Cooperative Bank scam. Patil had taken a loan of more than Rs 54 crore from the cooperative bank and did not repay the amount causing the bank to be suspended from the clearing house in 2002. A majority of the lakhs of the account holders with the five branches of the bank were from the middle and lower classes, and many are yet to get their money back. Patil was soon made chairman of the state-owned Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd.

He was in trouble again after he took 48 acres of land at Sachin to construct 65,000 flats for textile labourers. He made a down payment of Rs 6 crore for possession of the GIDC land on lease for 90 years on condition that the remaining amount will be paid soon. But he failed to do so and a court ordered the land to be sealed.

Crime Branch officers arrested Patil and his accomplices in 2002 and he had to remain in jail for 15 months until he secured bail from the Gujarat High Court on the condition that he would repay the dues. But did not do so, and was re-arrested. Patil moved the Supreme Court and later coughed up the money : Rs 88 crore towards the cooperative bank loan and the rest for the GIDC land lease cost, with interest.

The last Assembly elections once again saw Patil getting involved in political meetings, and getting conspicuously close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

But Patil remains unfazed : "I have been given a clean chit; I have cleared all my dues worth over Rs 88 crore." Patil also claims that he is a victim of conspiracies. "I am actually innocent. Someone had framed me. The party high command would have certainly checked my past record before giving me the ticket for Navsari. They would not have done so were I not innocent."

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