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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Sarva Seva Sangh chief ‘removed’ by working committee, he says removal ‘non-existent’

The decision was taken at a virtual meeting of the committee attended by 30 people, including presidents of Sarvoday Mandals of many states, three former Sangh presidents -- Sugan Baranth, Radhaben Bhat and Amarnath Mishra, and members of the working committee.

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Pune | September 23, 2020 10:32:33 pm
The Indian Express had highlighted the internal squabbles in the Gandhian institutions in a series of reports nearly four months ago. (Representational Image)

The working committee of the Sarva Seva Sangh (SSS), the apex body of all Gandhian institutes in the country, on Wednesday “removed” its president Mahadev Vidrohi through a resolution, leveling many accusations of impropriety against him.

The decision was taken at a virtual meeting of the committee attended by 30 people, including presidents of Sarvoday Mandals of many states, three former Sangh presidents — Sugan Baranth, Radhaben Bhat and Amarnath Mishra, and members of the working committee.

Chandan Pal, Sarvoday leader from Kolkata, whom Vidrohi had removed from the post of general secretary of the Sangh in June, was installed as “interim president” in his place “till the new elected body takes over”.

The Indian Express had highlighted the internal squabbles in the Gandhian institutions in a series of reports nearly four months ago.

Vidrohi, however, dismissed his “removal”. He told The Indian Express, “How can I react to something that is non-existent? I continue to be in charge and will attend the office as usual.”

An interesting situation may arise on Friday when Pal is expected to take charge at Sangh’s Wardha office.

Vidrohi said, “Such a meeting can be called only by the Sangh’s president as per the Sangh Constitution. I will not allow any illegally-appointed person to enter my office.”

The beleaguered SSS chief had earlier stirred a controversy by removing Sevagram Ashram president T R N Prabhu in March, for, among other reasons, denying permission to the Congress Working Committee to hold its meeting at Sevagram Ashram in 2018 on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Vidrohi had even termed Prabhu a “Godsewadi”, which was strongly condemned by several senior Gandhians.

Earlier, in February, he had removed Ashaben Bothra, a member of the Ashram’s working committee, for opposing his stand on Prabhu.

Among the charges leveled against Vidrohi are the “many unconstitutional steps” taken by him after the end of his second term as Sangh president on March 31, like appointments of office secretary, general secretary, and two other secretaries, and the earlier removal of general secretary Chandan Pal, Sevagram Ashram President T R N Prabhu and trustee Asha Bothra.

He has also been accused of suppressing the ‘Bhoodan scam’ in Telangana worth thousands of crores. Former president of Telangana Sarvoday Mandal, G V V S Prasad, has also sought a probe into the ‘scam’.

Vidrohi was also accused of “ill-treating” the Sangh’s election officer Bhavanishankar Kusum by “using extremely uncivilised language and misbehaving with the managing trustee of the Sangh, Ashok Sharan.”

“Vidrohi also inexplicably deposited Rs 54 lakh of the Sangh in an account in an Ahmedabad bank,” Kusum told The Indian Express.

The meeting on Wednesday was a culmination of several Gandhian and Sarvoday leaders from across the country writing letters expressing anguish at the acrimonious turn of events at Sevagram and was convened by Kusum, as the Sangh’s election officer, and Sharan, as its managing trustee.

About the Telangana “Bhoodan scam”, Vidrohi said, “It was on my urging to the Telangana chief minister that a couple of years, a person called Rajendra Reddy was arrested after a raid.”

He said he would send a legal notice to Kusum for alleging that he had deposited Rs 54 lakh of the Sangh in an Ahmedabad bank. “They have no evidence and yet they are leveling such accusations,” he said.

Kusum responded, “It’s part of official record. I am not saying he has done any misappropriation”, adding, “We are thinking of holding elections to choose the regular president and other office-bearers and members in December, provided the government allows holding a larger congregation.”

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