The members of the Shirdi Saibaba Santhan Inc elected a new team of office-bearers at their Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on July 14, 2012 in Auckland.
Since then, I have been inundated with emails and phone calls from members and devotees (from New Zealand and overseas) about the way in which the Sansthan is functioning under the new leadership.
My verbal inquiries and personal meetings with some current and former members of the Executive Committee (EC) revealed that the working of Sansthan is not up to expectations and that urgent actions are needed rectify the situation.
I have not mentioned any names because, the need of the hour is action.
After a careful and considered view of the information available in the public domain, I have come to the conclusion that there is no transparency in the functioning of the current EC under the new leadership. Gossip and rumours have become the order of the day.
For some unknown reason, the leadership is withholding vital information from members or misrepresenting facts.
I have reliably learnt that a few EC members are unaware of a number of decisions taken by the leadership, until these decisions were communicated by email. It is apparent that a majority of the decisions were taken by just one or two people.
One of the EC members (elected on July 14, 2012), frustrated by the style and functioning of the leadership, resigned from the Committee making it clear in his resignation letter that he was upset by some of the decisions (see related report in this section).
The current leadership has released a few website links carrying media reports in India, in which former President Bhaskar Reddy Duvvuru had allegedly issued statements during his recent visit to India.
The EC did not want to wait for a few days for the return of Mr Reddy to get a true picture of the media reports. My understanding is that despite stiff opposition from a few EC members, the leaders decided to rush into action.
I have also received an email from the Sansthan claiming that the organisation had saved about $65,000 while negotiating the Temple Contract.
My inquiries reveal that this figure is not a true reflection of savings and that it was a misrepresentation. The true picture is that a small portion of the scope of works has been reduced, resulting in savings. An accurate representation of facts would definitely avoid confusion in the minds of members.
A few members of the Sansthan have resigned and few more are just waiting to do so, but hoping that the leadership would change its style of functioning for the greater good of the organisation.
I have seen an email from a life member stating that the financial commitments of the Sansthan (about $400,000) may be at stake unless groupism within the organisation is stopped.
The leadership should not forget for a moment that numerous devotees’ hard work, perseverance and optimism have brought the Temple project to its current stage.
Regrettably, most of the devotees with who I have been in regular contact, are weary of the current leadership (which is barely eight weeks old), mainly due to inept handling of Sansthan’s matters and indulging in group squabbles.
The leadership must adopt an inclusive approach instead of engaging in turf war with dedicated devotees.
The new leadership should be held solely responsible if payments are defaulted.
It is a sad state of affairs that the Sansthan is witnessing today.
Let us remind ourselves that the organisation comes first and we all stand by it.
The members and devotees are supreme and the leadership must recognise and take into account the genuine aspirations of the members. If it fails to do so, members of the Sansthan would definitely call for a Special AGM to discuss the issue and hold or withdraw their commitments to Sansthan.
As a result, our dream project for Baba will remain unfulfilled.
Ram Sastry is a devotee of Shirdi Saibaba and lawyer by profession. He can be contacted on (09) 2708607 Mobile 021-2307222