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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Chandigarh golf club goes to polls

Here's a look at why elections were delayed, charges of corruption and the key issues facing the Chandigarh Golf Club.

Chandigarh |
Updated: March 15, 2022 9:54:55 am
(Left to right) Major Lally Virk, SPS Ghai and Col Bobby Chahal (Special Arrangement)

Written by Sushant Nepta

Chandigarh Golf Club, considered a nursery of international golf champions, is witnessing one of the most hotly contested elections in its recent history. As the members gear up to vote on the coming Sunday, we spoke to the three Presidential candidates to find out about the issues facing the club and their agenda for the future.

‘Will bring transparency, improve quality and lower rates’: Major Lally Virk

Why are the elections happening after such a long time?

We are having an election after five years. Covid was a spoilsport, but the fact remains that the nexus of a few members wanted to systematically do away with the democratic process of the club. It took a lot of effort for us to ensure it is not replaced by the hierarchical “rule” of a privileged few.

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How did the issue of corruption creep into such an elite institution?

There was a minor incident that did take place, which is a matter of record. It was adequately dealt with by the present managing committee. However, the incident shook my conscience, and I felt the soul of our club was being sold at the altar of pettiness. There was the loss of courage to stand by the rules/regulations in favour of quid-pro-quo, much to the chagrin of the silent majority of gentlemen golfers. My training in the army has taught me to never be fearful of change. We must remain steadfast in our choice of the ‘Harder Right’ over the ‘Easier Wrong’!

What are the key issues this time? How do you plan to address these?

Although the key issues remain arbitrariness in decision making and an endless cycle of alternating presidencies, there are several others as mentioned on Page 35 of the latest audit report, which mentions that expenditure on purchases needs to be controlled. We plan to restrict the president’s tenure to a maximum of 2 years in a lifetime. I believe most of the ills stem from the desire to remain president year after year.

We will lower the prices of food and beverages and member subscriptions. All purchases of the club will be shifted to the GeM (Government’s Market Portal) to bring transparency and control unnecessary expenses. We will focus on the maintenance of the course.

Pending court cases will be resolved via alternate dispute resolution mechanisms. We will introduce the concept of ombudsman to avoid any case going to the court in the first place.

More funds will be allocated for ladies’ golf, along with the resolution of issues of their voting rights. We will promote open-house sessions and online-voting for better representation.

What is the USP of your team?

Each member of my team is an accomplished individual with a stellar track record in their professional and personal lives. They are competent and motivated to take the club to international level. Each member has been assigned specific tasks as per their ability and qualification.

‘We have a cohesive and competent team’: SPS Ghai

Why are elections happening after such a long time?

The initial arrangements for CGC annual general elections were made on January 30, but got delayed due to a spurt spur in Covid -19 cases and strict curbs imposed by the administration.

How did the charges of corruption and transparency creep into such an elite club?

What happened in the membership screening committee is unfortunate. I feel the committee should be cohesive and strong enough to ensure that such mismanagement does not happen in future.

What are the key issues this time? How do you plan to address them?

The crucial issue my campaign addresses is constructive upkeep of the golf pitch and other club infrastructure such as pool, gym, bar etc with benchmark standards. The pitch specifically needs care because of the toll it takes every day. Rejuvenating the golf course after the pandemic is another major issue.

We will assure a realistic budget and have constant interaction with Committee and members. We will practice fiscal transparency and diligent expenditure. We will ensure the smooth conduct of all club activities. My team will raise the standards of maintenance of the course and take it to international standards.

What is the USP of your team?

An experienced and mature team with domain knowledge in running of the club as well as the golf course is the major USP of my team. They are a very competent and cohesive team.

I have been past captain and secretary in the club though this is my first election for the president’s post. I am a sports enthusiast and an avid golf lover. I am also among the founding members of SJOBA. I am a national champion in the artistic roller skating championship seven times from 1974 to 1980. I also represented India in roller skating in 1977 in Montreal.

‘Experienced management team’: Col Bobby Chahal

Why are elections happening after such a long time?

Elections are held every year as part of our AGM process. The last contested elections were held in 2018. In 2019, only one candidate for president and 11 members filed their nominations for the Executive Committee, therefore, the election was unanimous. In 2020, the election was deferred to 2021 due to Covid-19.

In 2021, again only that many members filed their nominations as are required, therefore the president and committee were elected unanimously as part of the AGM.

How did the charges of corruption and transparency creep into such an elite club?

False propaganda has been spread that the Executive Committees are formed by ‘bhai bandi‘. Actually, elections in the Golf Club are a very clean democratic process. If at any given time any member feels aggrieved that a unanimous election is wrong then he/she is free to throw in his hat and contest the election.

There was no corruption at any stage, however, there was a case of indiscipline. The Club has an in-house discipline committee that looks into such incidents. As soon as it came to light, an enquiry was ordered and action, as recommended, was taken by the sitting President and the Committee.

What are the key issues this time and how do you plan to address them?

We will ensure transparency in finance and new memberships, make all major purchases through tendering, tend to the greens, and solve the parking problem. We will also reduce bar and catering charges besides making the swimming pool all weather.

What is the USP of your team?

Our team consists of members who are experienced in club management as well as members who have never stood for club elections. However, all of them have been at the top of their respective professions, e.g. we have two well-known doctors, one very senior electrical engineer, three very successful businessmen, including Chairman of CII, a retired army/senior bank officer, one golf pro.

I served in the army for over 22 years and started my own security company in 1997 and have run it very successfully ever since. I have contested three golf club elections and won all three times. Besides handling other subcommittees in the club I was also the Honorary Secretary of the club in 2018. However, this is the first time that I am contesting for the post of president.

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