Posted By

Tags

Controversy brews in Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan

Indian Newslink has always supported the Auckland based Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan Inc as one of the finest organisations involved in commendable charitable projects.

Over the years, we have worked, and continue to work closely with its officials, devotees and members in promoting its varied activities, and more recently its ambitious $3 million Temple Project.

More than two years ago, the organisation was threatened by factionalism, with a handful of members raising their voice against the then EC.

We reported the opposing views and took a stand that favoured the EC in our March 15, 2010 issue.

The issue was settled with the dissenting members leaving the organisation to establish their own body. We have continued to report the activities of both organisations, subject to information provided and space available.

Another controversy has arisen in recent weeks, with a number of members questioning the propriety of the newly elected EC at their Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Auckland on July 14, 2012.

It is understood that incumbent President Bhaskar Reddy Duvvuru decided not to contest the post, allowing Hari Gangisetty to be elected unanimously.

“I stepped down to avoid elections during the crucial year of Temple construction. The choice before me was winning the election defeating the Sansthan or stepping aside, allowing the Sansthan to win. I chose the latter in the interest of the organisation,” Mr Duvvuru said.

Serious lapses

Mr Gangisetty said that elections were held as per the Constitution and that Mr Duvvuru had decided not to contest.

“I offered him the post of Vice-President or Secretary and membership to the EC. He declined all the offers,” he said.

Mr Duvvuru told us that as the President at the time, he owned responsibility for two serious lapses, namely, deregistration of the Sansthan by the Charity Commission for not submitting audited accounts on time and the non-renewal at Auckland Council of the Warrant of Fitness for the property purchased in Onehunga in Central Auckland.

According to some members, the onus for these lapses should be on the Secretary but no one raised the issue with us.

Both lapses have since been rectified, presumably by the new EC after its election on July 14.

Media release

At the centre of the imbroglio is the decision of the officials to seek an explanation from its former President Bhaskar Reddy Duvvaru on a press statement that he had purportedly issued during his recent visit to India.

The news item, apparently circulated by the Press Trust of India, had mentioned Mr Duvvaru as ‘Chairman’ of the Shirdi Saibaba ‘Trust’ and that the Sansthan would be providing accommodation to students coming from India.

Mr Gangisetty’s memo to devotees had said that the statement was unauthorised and that it contained a number of inaccuracies.

“The Sansthan is not a ‘Trust,’ Mr Reddy is not the ‘Chairman’ and that the Sansthan will provide accommodation to Indian students is a false claim,” he had said in his memo.

Members’ Petition

A petition signed by 61 persons (all of them presumably members) said that the EC should have waited for the return of Mr Duvvuru from India, sought his clarifications before dispatching the email to the members.

“The email sent out was a simple clarification of incorrect statements made by the media in Indian newspapers. Nowhere in this email was it implied that Mr Duvvuru had contributed to the incorrect statements,” Mr Gangisetty said.

Sandeep Agarwal, who was elected to the EC at its AGM on July 14, resigned from his post under protest.

He was apparently displeased by the way in which the EC had handled the issues, without assessing facts.

Mr Gangisetty described the resignation as “unfortunate but unfounded.”

Rama Sastry, a prominent barrister and lawyer, was more forceful in his reaction. He resigned from the primary membership of the Sansthan and questioned the veracity of a few actions of the EC in a separate article published in this Section.

We have informed Mr Gangisetty of the article but did not reveal its contents as per journalistic practice. However, he and his EC would have the right to respond to Mr Sastry’s comments.

But Mr Gangisetty said, “As per Ram Sastry’s resignation, his main concern was the email on media release. There was no mention or question of transparency anywhere in his letter. This EC has been more transparent in all aspects than any of its predecessors. The current EC was in office for four weeks when Mr Sastry decided to resign.”

Temple Project

In his article, Mr Sastry had said that the Sansthan’s claim of having saved $65,000 while negotiating the construction contract was “not a true reflection of the saving and that it was a misrepresentation.”

Mr Gangisetty denied the charge saying that the aim was to effect savings without compromising the quality of construction. The original contract was $2,765,000. After negotiating, value engineering and discounting, the price was reduced to 2,700,000,” he said.

It goes to the credit of all the parties involved that despite the differences of opinion and trading of allegations they are committed to the Temple Project.

“The current EC has been in existence for only about eight weeks, during which it reinstated the status of the Sansthan with the Charities Commission and the WOF with the Auckland Council, commenced construction of the Temple with ‘Sudharshan Homam.’ The event helped us to raise $54,000 for the Project,” Mr Gangisetty said.

Mr Duvvuru said he is prepared to assist the EC and promote the interests of the Sansthan by strengthening the team with experienced people.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this story

Related Stories

Indian Newslink

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement