Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Campaign frenzy at its peak for Parsi punchayet by-polls

With the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) by-elections set to begin next week, the four candidates vying for the vacant seat on the board of trustees are aggressively wooing the community. In the past two weeks, some candidates have organised regular public meetings with free dinner in Parsi colonies wh ile others are deliberately keeping a low profile to make a statement against what they term as “extravagant” campaigning.

“Since a rival candidate did not agree on having a mutual code of conduct for the election campaigns, the process is now getting intense,” said Anahita Desai, one of the candidates. Desai represents the World Alliance of Parsi Irani Zarthoshtis, an orthodox community organisation.

Desai has been organising more than four campaign meetings a week, which end with distributing dinner boxes containing sandwiches and chocolates  among attendees.

“This is not as elaborate as the sit-down dinners being hosted elsewhere,” said Desai, candidly confessing that mudslinging is an inevitable part of their speeches.

Both Desai and rival candidate Muncherji Cama did not disclose their campaign budgets.

“My campaign manager has been told not to do anything ostentatious such as handing out branded hampers,” said Cama, chairman and managing director of Gujarati daily Bombay Samachar, who hosted a formal dinner at Napean Sea Road’s Godrej Baug last week besides handing out dinner boxes at meetings every day.

Candidates Noshir Gotla and Adi Govadia, on the other hand, are asserting themselves through deliberate low-key campaigns.

“I represent the poor Parsis so I am not spending much money on the elections,” said Govadia, whose campaign involves door-to-door visits to Parsi homes and distributing pamphlets.

The BPP will spend Rs 20 lakh to organise the by-election.

“We are expecting 8,000 out of our 28,000 voters to turn up on the voting days, and most of them would be senior citizens,” said BPP chairman Dinshaw Mehta.