This past year has been very challenging for me. My husband, Yazdi Desai, suffered a stroke last April and it’s been emotionally grueling to adjust to the stresses and strains of his illness. We decided to submit Yazdi’s resignation from the BPP as Chairman and Trustee last December, when we realized his recovery would take longer than we thought.
It was devastating to us because the community and the BPP have been an integral part of his life for the last two decades. Although legally a Trustee can be absent for 18 months and we were not legally required to tender Yazdi’s resignation till October 2021, we do not believe in holding on to a Chair for months on end, and we did not want the community to spend 30-40 lakhs for an election, because for Yazdi and me, the community has always come before self. This is a principle we have always held, which is why, when Yazdi’s brother died suddenly in November 2020, we surrendered his Godrej Baug flat within a month of his demise, as we do not believe in holding on to vacant flats which can be used for the benefit of a Parsi Irani Zoroastrian family in need.
With Yazdi’s resignation, Elections were declared for 2 seats (Zarir Bhathena and Yazdi Desai) on 2nd January 2021. I decided to contest the BPP elections, despite most of my well-wishers dissuading me, due to the present infighting and bitter tone of the politics prevailing. But my deep passion for serving the community and working for its well-being, convinced me that the post of a BPP Trustee enables one to do much more work than when working without the BPP platform. This is why I decided to contest the Elections.
A Blow To The Community And Democracy – An Election Snatched From Us!
I started campaigning in January 2020. We’ve enrolled 200 new voters and got a large number of duplicate voting certificates issued. My campaign has been going full steam ahead on Social Media and telephone calls to voters. I’ve had 4 election meetings – at Panthaki Baug, BPP Nirlon Colony (Goregaon), Navroze Baug and Godrej Baug. I’ve invested money booking pages in our Community newspapers to share my Manifesto and endorsements so that community members could be more aware of the work I have done and continue to do.
Then shockingly, just 4 days before Elections, on 9th March, 2021, three BPP Trustees – Armaity Tirandaz, Viraf Dinshaw Mehta and Xerxes Dastur – arbitrarily decide to postpone the Elections, supposedly for the next 2 months! Even more shockingly, on 9th March, at 4:30 pm, a meeting was organized at the BPP for all the candidates for a demo of the EVM machines to be used for the Elections. There were over 25 people present for this hour-long meeting, which was attended by all BPP Trustees, candidates (including myself), the Election Commissioner and his team, the IT team of Base Technology which handles the EVMs and computerized election setup, the Auditors monitoring the election process, senior BPP staff handling the election logistics, and Dinshaw Mehta (who was representing candidate Kersi Sethna).
All candidates were explained the step-by-step process of the elections and the safeguards planned for Covid. The demo was carried out by few of the candidates to evaluate the working of the EVMs and all candidates’ queries were answered by the Election Commissioner. Finally, the Election Commissioner asked the candidates and Trustees if they were satisfied with the arrangements / explanations and everyone answered in the affirmative. No one had any grievances. As we all left post the meeting, the BPP Board of 5 Trustees called their Board Meeting. Within half an hour of their Board Meeting, Armaity Tirandaz, Viraf Mehta and Xerxes Dastur passed a resolution to postpone the Elections!
I AM APPALLED THAT THESE THREE TRUSTEES (Armaity, Viraf and Xerxes) PRETENDED TO SIT THROUGH THE MEETING with the Candidates, Election Commissioner and all others, KNOWING FULLY WELL THAT THEY WOULD MAKE THE ELECTIONS NULL AND VOID BEFORE THE EVENING ENDED!
And then, JUST HALF AN HOUR LATER they passed the resolution to postpone the elections. There wasn’t even a HINT that they would CANCEL THE ELECTIONS. THIS IS DISHONESTY OF A HIGH ORDER AND AN ATTEMPT TO MAKE A FOOL OF THE COMMUNITY.
Anyone with an iota of decency would have informed the participants at the election meeting about their decision to approach the court to postpone the elections. But there wasn’t a whisper of their plan to deceive the community and postpone the elections! They participated in the EVM Demo meeting and even made suggestions and comments and then in a Sly and Cowardly, these 3 Trustees passed a resolution to postpone the elections just half an hour after the meeting ended! THEY SHOWED ABSOLUTELY NO RESPECT TO ALL THE 25 PARTICIPANTS OF THE MEETING. WHAT A MOCKERY THEY ARE MAKING OF OUR APEX INSTITUTION – THE BPP. THE BPP HAS BECOME A TOY FOR THESE TRUSTEES!!!
They have put us through trauma and turmoil. The BPP Staff is torn between the two factions and this absolutely arbitrary decision has totally confused the voters and the community! The majority community members are willing to come out and Vote!
Challenging Their Arbitrary Actions in Court
I filed a Petition in the High Court to challenge this last-minute arbitrary Resolution of the 3 trustees. It has personally cost me Rs 75,000/-.
There were more than a 100 persons crowded in the small courtroom. The safeguards and precautions at the Voting Centres organized by the BPP which the Election Commissioner explained to us, would make the Voting Centres a safe place the voters. However, these 3 trustees were determined to derail the elections for which everyone had worked so hard.
IT IS SO OBVIOUS THAT THE REASON QUOTED BY THE 3 TRUSTEES OF COVID IS NOT WHY THEY ARE POSTPONING THE ELECTIONS. IF THAT WAS THE REAL REASON THEN THE ELECTIONS SHOULD HAVE BEEN POSTPONED A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO. THE MUNICIPALITY HAS NO OBJECTION TO HOLDING THE ELECTIONS THEN WHY ARE 3 TRUSTEES HELL BENT ON POSTPONING THE ELECTIONS?