December 1, 2013

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The 10 th World Zoroastrian Congress is now declared to be on schedule, to be held from the 27th to the 30 th of December 2013. Parsi Times speaks to some Trustees, present and others linked to the crucial event that will bring the focus of the Zoroastrian Community worldwide on our city of Mumbai.

Published in the Parsi Times

The 10th World zoroastrian Congress will go down in history as possibly the most controversial Congress in the history of the Community.

Coming on the heels of serious allegations made by four BPP Trustees and the filing of a complaint before The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) the holding of the Congress itself became a contentious issue.

The four Trustees asked Mehta to step down so that the Congress could go on as scheduled.

To any and all who are willing to listen to him, Mehta says “I am not important, the interest of the Institution is paramount for me. (Although this line is beginning to sound a little worn around the edges now because every time that Mehta seem to land himself in trouble he always says that the BPP will be in trouble and an administrator will be appointed, and our properties will come under threat etc ” as he did when four Trustees of the last board resigned).

However despite these high sounding values, when he was asked by the four Trustees to step down in the interest of the Trust and the Congress, the ever practical Mehta refused, claiming rightly (at least technically) that he was innocent till proven guilty.

The four Trustees, in conversation with PT, expressed their concern that the next few weeks would be full of turmoil, as the BPP would be involved in legal enquiry and investigations both by the EOW and the Charity Commissioner. They sincerely believed that with the eyes of the world community and the media focused on the Congress, the timing of the Congress was unfortunately not right as the controversy would also get high coverage in the media.

Thus after Mehta refused to step down, the four Trustees by majority decided that the Congress should be postponed. Mehta, who as per the Election Scheme, was bound to follow the decision of the majority, ignoring the scheme altogether, hit back by sending emails to the international Community members. Mehta rightly assessed the anguish that this postponement would cause, particularly as many of the foreign delegates had planned their trips months in advance. Tickets and hotels had been booked and the international delegates recorded their displeasure and wanted the BPP to keep their “internal” differences separate from the hosting of the Congress. Many senior members of the community also expressed their concern and urged both sides to try and find a solution that would allow the Congress to proceed. The fact that four Trustees had made serious allegations of fnancial impropriety against the Chairman took a back seat, as Mehta had probably hoped and planned.

The four Trustees after many hours of deliberations (as per an email sent out by them in the early hours of Friday 29th November, 2013) decided that even if Mehta was unwilling to step down as a BPP Trustee as they had initially demanded, they would reconsider their decision if Mehta would recuse himself from the planning of the Congress and the Congress itself.

Thanks to the advice and involvement of some of the senior and respected members of the community both sides have apparently decided to meet somewhere in the middle and it now appears that the Congress is back on track.

PT is informed that by end of day on Sunday, the announcement that the Congress will go on as scheduled (albeit with certain changes in who does what, when and how). The Community will be relieved though the threat of the investigation revealing unpleasant surprises will continue to loom over this Congress.