BURLINGTON, MA—Given the fierce competition for positions of president and vice president of the Indian Association of Greater Boston (IAGB) in upcoming elections on Sunday, Oct. 8, there has been some confusion about who can vote and who cannot, INDIA New England News sent some questions to Kaplesh Kumar, a former IAGB president and the current chair of the Nominating Committee of the IAGB.
Here are unedited answers of Mr. Kumar on this topic:
INDIA New England News: Who can vote in IAGB elections this year?
KAPLESH KUMAR: Only those who were IAGB members on August 31, 2017 and renewed their membership on or before September 8, 2017.
INE: What does IAGB bylaws and constitution say about the voting rights of the members?
KK: The rules established for standing for a position and voting for the elections this year are consistent with and flow from the IAGB Bylaws.
INE: Some people are complaining that they are not being allowed to vote despite becoming member of IAGB?
KK: The only people not allowed to stand for an EC (executive committee) position or vote for the candidates are those who do not meet the criteria above in answer to Question 2.
INE: Has the Nominating Committee changed the rules on voting rights from last elections? If yes, why?
KK: There were hardly any rules implemented in the past as there never was such adversarial competition as emerged in the last election and the pattern seems to be repeating this year, so most previous elections followed a flexible and variable approach.
There was significant complaining AFTER the last election, mostly by those who lost and their supporters. This has made it even more important that this time we take care to ensure that rules are clearly established, explained and followed along with ensuring transparency.
INE: How will the Nominating Committee (NC) guarantee that elections will be fair and transparent?
KK: The NC (Nominating Committee) operates by consensus on all matters and is taking special care to ensure fairness and transparency. The ballots and voting members will be properly accounted for and representatives of each of the contestants along with a few eminent IAGB members invited to monitor the election process, including ballot dispensing and vote counting.
INE: If someone disputes the elections results, where should they go, what they should do and who has the final say?
KK: The NC is solely responsible and has the final say in all matters pertaining to the election.
INE: You have been part of IAGB for a very long time, including being its president and heading nominating committee several times in the past, have you ever seen so much intensity as far as presidential and vice presidential elections in the past are concerned? If yes, why you think this is happening this year?
KK: Unfortunately, the last election saw the forming of adversarial groups which seem to stress personal loyalty over IAGB loyalty. The evidence supporting this conclusion is that there has been a conscious effort by adversarial candidates to stack the whole deck with one’s personal choices. The same set of individuals end up supporting nominations for all the candidates in one’s slate of desired candidates.
Candidate qualification has been made irrelevant so long as they are loyal to the few forming the nucleus of a group.
Previously, contests were largely unheard of and once elected even disparate individuals used to work together. This changed significantly in the last election. New members were made at the last minute and offered Executive Committee positions, thereby ensuring they would support the rest of the candidates in the slate and would also show up to vote as well as bring in more new member voters for one’s group to prevail.
This clearly corrupts the process so IAGB interests take a back seat to one’s desire to get elected. IAGB is a business entity and an elected member must have utmost loyalty to the organization. Who would hand over to a newly hired another with no background or experience control of their personal business? No one, obviously. But, unfortunately, IAGB seems to have become fair game for EC appointments. The NC’s efforts this time to rigidly control the process in the best interests of the organization have consequently met with resistance.
(The IAGB Nominating Committee consists of former IAGB presidents Kaplesh Kumar (Chair), Shiva Sheel and Rajani Kant.)