Anahita Desai’s decision to contest in the oncoming BPP Elections as a Trustee has brought in much excitement, delight and joy to community members, who have been waiting to see this stalwart of community service grace the apex institution of our community in the well-deserved capacity of a Trustee. Parsi Times catches up with leading Trustee Nominee – Anahita Desai and shares her candid and straightforward answers with the community.
PT: How do you identify yourself – as a Community/Social Worker or as an Activist?
Anahita: Both – as a Community/Social worker as well as an activist. I firmly believe that a candidate needs to be judged by his / her track record. I have a 2-decade long record of being both a social worker and an activist. Just recently, I co-ordinated assistance and support to two Parsi families who were going through crises – one family having lost its only breadwinner – a widow, who is partially blind with three children to take care of; and another family having to deal with a member affected by severe mental illness.
I am involved in the wellbeing of an orphan child that the BPP has ‘adopted’. I also ensure the future wellbeing of the family of the children whose Navjotes were organized by WAPIZ less than a month ago. These are just some of the very recent examples of service to our community.
As an activist, I have been involved and fronted various community causes. More recently, I was involved in the organization of the support meeting at Patkar Hall held for our Atash Behrams against the Metro. I have also co-ordinated the restoration of our Godavara Agiary, the repairs of the Bhabha Bunglis at Doongerwadi and the Tarachand Bunglis (lower Bugli) which is being inaugurated by the donor and BPP Trustees.
PT: There are rumours floating around that you have an ‘understanding’ or are ‘aligned with’ another candidate. Could you shed some light on the facts?
Anahita: I have been approached by potential candidates to form alliances and give active support, but I have made it very clear that I am standing as an independent candidate, without any so called ‘understanding’ or ‘aligning’ with anyone else.
PT: A lot has been written about you being in possession of two houses – one in Rustom Baug and one in Godrej Baug. Could you please clarify?
Anahita: The Godrej Baug flat, which we surrendered to the BPP in December 2020, after the sudden passing away of my husband, Yazdi’s brother, was allotted to my father-in-law, in exchange of their one room flat at Navroze Baug in 1990. After the passing away of my father-in-law, my brother-in-law was residing there.
Our Rustom Baug flat was allotted to my mother, under the refundable Deposit Scheme in 2002, on Leave and License. The flat is in my mother’s name. My mother sold our portion of our flat at Gowalia Tank in which we stayed as a joint family with my father’s kaka’s family. We bought the Rustom Baug flat with the proceeds from the sale and Yazdi added the rest. Yazdi was staying with us as a gher-jamai at Gowalia Tank. I repeat, we paid for the Rustom Baug flat, as per the prevailing BPP policy at that time and it is completely untrue that we got the flat free!
I hope this clears all the twisted stories about us having multiple flats!
PT: All are aware that there is groupism in the BPP. Which group would you favour or align with?
Anahita: Groupism has been in the BPP since ages. It is a political office and it would be foolish to expect there not to be alliances and groupism. But having said that, no trustee should sacrifice the wellbeing of the community and the institution at the altar of political upmanship.
Coming back to the question, I am going to stand for what is right for the community and for the Trust. In doing so, I may be seen as favouring one group at a certain time for one issue, and for another issue – favouring another group. My priority and loyalties, as always, rest with the welfare and progress of the community.
PT: Your previous two attempts when you contested the BPP elections, didn’t bear fruit. Why do you think that was the case?
Anahita: The last time I contested, in 2018, I lost by a very narrow margin – just 26 more voters favoured my opponent – Xerxes Dastur. One factor which was made into a big issue by my opponents and which did go against me, was that my husband was also the Chairman-Trustee at that time and there were some people who felt that having two persons from the same family, at the same time, on the Board, was not right.
Secondly, it is also extremely disappointing and distressing to see that candidates sign a voluntary Code of Conduct and then blatantly flout all the codes. This happened at the last elections too. The candidate spent way beyond the limit specified, campaigning continued till the day of the elections when the code restricts campaigning 48 hours before elections. Threats, intimidation and financial incentives were used to get votes. I truly hope that this time around, the Code of Conduct is taken seriously and not disrespected so brazenly.
PT: What are the immediate changes you wish to bring to the BPP?
Anahita: I think it is imperative that the BPP communicates and keeps the community informed of its activities, decisions, allotment of flats, achievements, update on the status of important cases it is involved in, its finances, the constraints and problems faced by the BPP. I really would love to restart a monthly communication from the BPP to the community in our Community newspapers. A great deal of the controversies and misinformation, which is so prevalent nowadays, would disappear as these survive and confuse the community due to the absence of true and factual information being communicated.
I am appalled that the BPP landlines have not been in working condition for months because the telephone operator is not coming to work!!! If a community member wants to get in touch with the BPP, there is no way he/she can do so, unless the person knows the personal number of a staff or trustee. So many persons have been calling me and asking how to get in touch with the BPP. Hopefully, this very small but very important issue will be resolved before I become a trustee (God willing), otherwise this is the very first thing I will get done.
To get your questions answered by our BPP Candidates, please write in to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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