With the second weekend of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP) elections round the corner, we decided to review the past weekend and see what some of the prominent candidates have to say about their experiences and observations so far. As 32 candidates vie for the seven seats of trustees to the most powerful Parsi institution in the city, a variety of views and opinions are thrown up in the process.
A former corporator from Dadar’s Parsi Colony, Rustom Tirandaz who is an independent candidate describes the first weekend as “excellent”.
Tirandaz says that the enthusiasm among the Parsis was evident. “We are facing a revival, as Parsis are combining and casting their votes and showing contempt for character assassination that is taking place,” says Tirandaz.
Question him on the rumours of alleged rigging, he says, “It’s just not possible. We even use indelible ink.” Tirandaz also feels that the first day of the polls (Saturday) was strained only because there was an unexpectedly large turnout.
Noshir Dadrawala, Adult Franchise for Progress (AFP) and CEO of the Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy, feels that whatever went wrong on day one was corrected on the second day. “We’re expecting a turnout of 15,000- 17,000 at the end of the three weekends, out of around 30,000 registered votes, which is fair enough,” says Dadrawala.
He adds, “We must maintain some decorum. The accusations that are flying around should be avoided, especially by such an enlightened committee such as the Parsis.”
Jimmy Mistry, another independent candidate and chairperson of the Parsi Resource Group, says that he has been involved in community service for a long time, and has decided to channel that into a candidature at the BPP elections.
“The over all experience has been great. We have made a good attempt at the elections though a lot more could have been done in terms of organisation,” says Mistry, also adding that the process has been fair and without any rigging. “It’s very easy to accuse people but to come out and actually take the organisation into your hands is different matter altogether.”
Mistry, along with some other independent candidates, have made plans to visit Cusrow Bagh to create special spaces for the handicapped to vote.Khojeste Mistree, World Alliance for Parsi Irani Zarthostis (WAPIZ), scholar and historian on the Zoroastrian culture, feels that there was a lot left to be done in terms of organisation. “The space allotted for voting was only around 60 square feet. That is crazy, considering the number of potential voters. On the second day, it improved considerably after the BPP staff took over from the election committee,” says Mistree, adding that all-in-all, things had gone off well for WAPIZ, though there were certain events he was unhappy about. “My daughter was filming the ballots being rigged and she was manhandled. She has to wear a belt now, since she hurt her back badly,” Mistree complains.
The venue for the polls to be held on Saturday has been shifted from the BPP office to Cusrow Baug in Colaba and the venue for the polls to be conducted on 19th October have been shifted from the J B Vatcha School to Dadar Parsi Gymkhana.