On the face of it the elections held at East End Apartments on Sunday to elect a new managing committee was amicable. The residents and candidates from rival factions were rubbing shoulders at the counting centre. However, the run-up to the polls was marred by one of the most bitterly contested campaigns, where allegations flew thick and fast.
The residents, who sat down to take stock of the elections after the dust settled, said that it was hardly fought as a community election, where a resident was taking on his friendly neighbour. Though the candidates and the voters were residing in the same complex or even the same building for years, they levelled allegations and slung mud at each another mercilessly, almost mirroring assembly or parliamentary polls.
Residents said that initially, allegations were about the way the society was being managed. There were charges of inflated estimates, wrong choice of vendors, misallocation and misappropriation of funds, etc, and most charges were unsubstantiated. But the last day of the campaign turned vicious, with anonymous pamphlets that tried to besmirch the professional lives of individuals contesting the elections.
On record, both the sides involved, the incumbent managing committee and their rivals said they condemned the allegations made against any individual’s professional life, but alleged in the same breath that it was the rival who cast the first stone.
A day before the polls, the residents found anonymous letters in their mailboxes that attacked incumbent president BK Singh, who was seeking a re-election, and his running mate JP Verma.
The rival presidential nominee, KG Verma, who lost to BK Singh with a narrow margin of 11 votes, told City Spidey, “I had condemned this act even before polling. I can’t take the name of the persons who have done it but truthfully saying they were not from among our candidates. And I do not have control over individuals.”
Factional fights are not new to East End Apartments. It has seen many such squabbles, but the one that played out in yesterday’s polls started two years ago when the incumbent managing committee headed by BK Singh accused the previous committee of financial irregularities. In 2014 it had ordered an investigation into funds spent by the previous managing committee on strengthening basement pillars of multistorey apartments.
A counter complaint was filed by AK Aggarwal, a member of the rival panel (he has now got elected to the new committee) against BK Singh and his team. Aggarwal claimed instead it was under Singh’s watch that the funds were misused.
Talking to City Spidey, AK Aggarwal said this election was fought on a single issue i.e. upgradation of lifts in multi-storey buildings. He alleged that the incumbent managing committee created a false propaganda that the opposition was against upgradation of lifts in multi-storey apartments. Though Aggarwal has won as executive member, his panel has lost out. He said, “We lost the election because we could not convince the residents that we are not against lifts in multi-storeys. Ultimately, it was financial issues and they spread rumours that if we got elected in the managing committee then residents would have to pay more money for repair of lifts.”
Aggarwal claimed that, “my objection was about use of corpus funds only for multi-storeys? Why not for four-storey buildings as well. I have complained to the Registrar of Co-operative Group Housing Society (RCGHS) and will stand firm with our view in the future as well.”
A leading member of BK Singh’s team, however, gave a slightly different version. He said Aggarwal went to High Court with a petition seeking a stay against lift renovation work in multi-storey buildings. The court refused to entertain the petition and advised him to go back to RCGHS.
When City Spidey asked Aggarwal why personal attacks were mounted against individuals in the rival camp, he said, “They were the first who targeted individuals. A week ago someone from their side circulated a two-year-old video clip in the WhatsApp group of the society. Wasn’t that personal? In the outgoing committee we had no members from C- Block, but this time we have two members and will raise our issues strongly.”
The clip shows Aggarwal and his supporters engaged in an aggressive argument with BK Singh and other office bearers sitting on a podium. Aggarwal is than dragged away by one of his own associates.
JP Verma, who is now elected as new vice-president of the society, said that “the way opposition targeted us personally was beyond limits of decency. I won't cross my limit on commenting on them but yes, probably they have paid price for their act,” he concluded.
Post results the society members are busy analysing the results. For Singh’s panel it was a close call as the opposition, which included a break away group, members of C-Block and even some women members group had joined hands to form a front. He managed to survive anti-incumbency by keeping a sharp focus on the lift renovation issue. The message was clear. The lift work could get stalled and costs could go up if left mid-stream. Since it is the lifeline of multi-storey residents, they decided to go with him. Aggarwal on the other hand, residents say, survived the scare by encouraging his close supporters to resort to bit of tactical voting.