The below is an Op-Ed by regular reader and good friend of Parsi Khabar, Mickie Sorabjee.
After baiting and rubbing him the wrong way during the watershed 2008 Bombay Parsee Punchayet elections and after, PTA editorial appears to be the first unbelievable quarter to sua sponte support the sitting Chairman Dinshaw Mehta, and pro bono present his lone crusader case before the community.
Actually the dynamics of Parsi politics had already undergone a fundamental change with the advent of misapplied United Adult Franchise set in motion without foremost working on an electoral code of conduct, and the first BPP trustees’ election in 2008 under its aegis was before now the defining moment. Sadly, the casualty was the intended beneficiary. At this point, “any seeming unity among elected Trustees now seen falling apart at the seams” was a foregone conclusion in what was then a hastily cobbled coalition of political convenience.
There is a preamble to this unfolding saga_ at the turn of the last century when an over rated small time politician crossed the threshold of the august BPP portals in 1996 as a first time Trustee, it triggered a gradual downhill slide of the dignity and decorum of the haloed Apex Body. The seeds of Adult Franchise, the hallmark of a political mindset, were sown by this late “young man in a hurry” with aspirations to cling on to this lucrative seat. With ethos and character of this redoubtable Parsi institution sent for a toss with the entry of this new breed, in no time a renowned and respected organisation was turned into an institution of disarray. A decade and half later, the class of Trustees that we are foisted with on the current board, bear silent testimony to this inexcusable ravage. Like it or not, Dinshawji was an active party to this woeful rot. Today it has germinated into chaotic and questionable Gher-no-Gambhar management with no one to guard the wayward custodians themselves. Much like politics, it has become the last arena for wheeler-dealers that self-respecting gentlemen are wary to tread.
With his above political crony and colleague’s premature exit from our planet after a short lived Pyrrhic second-term in BPP, Mehta sought and managed to get his widow, Armaity, elected as a trustee in the husband’s vacant seat, expecting her to be a pliable rubber-stamp. But he overlooked that when you play footsie with the wrong partner, the chickens come home to roost. Besides, with the infamous turncoat legacy now vested in the surviving family members of the controversial deceased Trustee, an old friendship took a back seat when at-stake fiscal investments charted the new course.
It is pure conjecture to say that post 2008 elections "WAPIZ pushed Mehta in the forefront, so that he faced the ire of the media, the Courts and the ‘new liberal’ lobby to portray Dinshaw Mehta as the bad boy of the BPP, and WAPIZ, as the increasingly reasonable face of mainstream orthodoxy". Ironically the tug of war between AFP and WAPIZ, pushed Dinshaw Mehta into WAPIZ arms. The seasoned Dinshaw Mehta with all his faults known to be a good friend and kind hearted human being is no suckling amateur in office as a BPP Trustee and certainly not one to be easily manipulated into provocation against undefined enemies. Had Dinshaw displayed principled pragmatism from the beginning and refused to be browbeaten by WAPIZ when it was the need of the hour, Parsis would have been spared this lamentable day in the history of a once illustrious BPP. Clearly it was a collective effort and not for a moment did it appear to onlookers that Chairman Dinshaw Mehta alone was responsible for hounding seventh elected trustee Noshir Dadrawalla out of his rightful 7 years term of trusteeship that has left the election weary community facing yet another premature and gratuitous voting extravaganza.
In the matter of housing and properties issues, what fruits have legit beneficiaries reaped from Mehta’s mastery in the subject and what has it accrued to the community good? Now when he sees his monopoly in that field endangered by another ambitious co-Trustee, he has objected to a WAPIZ-backed husband and wife at the same time on the Board of a charitable trust, that too, the Bombay Parsi Panchayet. To secure his own possible isolation in such a scenario (Noshir can have the last laugh here), Mehta has shrewdly made amply clear that he will not support Anahita Desai wife of sitting Trustee Yezdi Desai, but an independent candidate of merit. No doubt his demand is widely echoed across the community as on the propriety count Mehta is bound to have many supporters. But it remains debatable whether there is any legal backing for objection to a simultaneous spouse duo on the BPP Board.
With each one having his own axe to grind, the community welfare is being ground to zilch by the current egocentric board of BPP trustees. There is only one way to eradicate this malaise. Putting aside personal differences, our creme-a-la-creme legal luminaries should put their heads together and seriously consider knocking on the Supreme Court doors to revert Trustees’ electoral scheme to our mammoth and august charitable organisation to pre UAF status quo ante. Back to donors and their heirs/representatives, as benefactors alone should have right to decide who will administer their donations meant purely for charity. Logically speaking, beneficiaries can rightly have no say on who gets into the BPP Boardroom. This is the opportune moment to act before the once magnificent Bombay Parsee Punchayet is soon transformed to Desai Mistry Mistree & Associates.
In this unsavoury battle regrettably reduced to a clash between the rank and file masses and the ivory tower classes, and offensively touted as a skirmish between deep pockets and empty pockets, this pen would rather wager on a Dinshaw backed contender than a WAPIZ-schooled nominee. Till then_ natak jova, ane jamva chalo jee.