Residents of Uppal Southend, in Sector 49, Gurgaon, were shocked to discover that without even casting a single vote, their Resident Welfare Association was being headed by a new president almost overnight.
The elections for the two-year term were announced in mid-February, with March 27 as the polling date. Nominations were invited for 17 posts. Bhagat Yadav and Jeet Ram Sharma filed their nomination papers for the post of president. Similarly, others filed their respective nominations.
But things turned bizarre as the polling dates approached.
One set of nominations, largely belonging to the panel supporting Jeet Ram Sharma, was disqualified.
Residents suspect a nexus between the incumbent president SS Yadav and Bhagat Yadav. In the run-up to the polls, no ballot papers or boxes were prepared and the returning officers and the two election officers were intimidated to declare one group as the winner. All of the returning officers and one of the election officers resigned.
The nominations were rejected using a provision in the society by-laws that denied eligibility to those with arrears in membership dues to the RWA. Some of the members who purchased property on resale from the original allottees were declared defaulters and therefore not eligible to contest the elections or vote.
As a result, the posts of president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary were left with no opponents. Jeet Ram Sharma, who found himself out of reckoning along with his supporters, knocked the doors of the District Registrar. He disposed the case saying that he has no jurisdiction and the case must be heard by the State Registrar based in Chandigarh. In his order, however, he declared Bhagat Yadav as acting president of the RWA.
The grieved party reached the State Registrar, who declared that the case would be heard at his office on May 5. In the meantime, Bhagat Yadav had been declared “elected unopposed” along with other office bearers. A notice was circulated saying that the elections to the remaining posts — one convener and 10 executive members — would be held on May 1, without waiting for a decision from the State Registrar.
The fate of the election to the office of general secretary is unknown, as there were two nominations to the post and both were rejected. The incumbent general secretary has in a plea to the registrar complained against the election process and asked to seek fresh nominations. He has also complained that neither he nor the treasurer were consulted while the nominations were rejected on the basis of unpaid dues.
Interestingly, Jeet Ram Sharma was president of the RWA for two years. Apparently, the rival group dug out a fact which showed that the previous or the first owner of Sharma’s flat had not paid his dues. Sharma had bought the flat on resale.
“Many of us have purchased houses in this society after 2010 and the lists presented by Yadav precede that. We were not even residents of Uppal Southend back then. His claim is atrocious,” Sharma added. “Bhagat is not even the resident of Uppal Southend. We gave him a chance to be a member of our RWA in 2013. And now he wants a back-door entry into the existing registered RWA.” There are 4,000 residents in S and W blocks of the RWA.
Nitin Sirohi, who is a nominee for one of the executive posts, said, "The whole nomination process is bizarre. For instance, the proposer for one set of nominations for me is declared eligible, but the same person’s proposal for another set of nominations for another candidate has been declared void.”
Jeet Ram Sharma, two-time RWA president, said, “It is shocking. Bhagat Yadav had filed a plea with the State Registrar’s office in Chandigarh seeking dissolution of the incumbent RWA on the basis of fake defaulter lists, and now he heads it.”
Bhagat Yadav has denied all allegations. “The opposition group does not have enough members to win, and they are maligning my image. These allegations are baseless, as they were declared defaulters by the District Registrar. I am eligible for elections because I fulfil all the norms drawn by the RWA.” he said.
A District Registrar official refused to comment on the matter, as it was pending with the State Registrar office. “We have received directions to conduct free and fair elections on May 1 and our team is committed to it,” he said.
Ordinary residents, caught in the crossfire, are angry and confused. “Isn’t the body meant to ensure our welfare?" one of them asked.
"Besides, what is the wisdom in allowing the elections to take place on May 1, when the hearing of the case is coming up on May 5?" another asked.
The residents are caught in a web of power struggle between the erstwhile owners of the land who sold their property to the builders, and the factions that have been ruling the RWA for the past few years.
The demand of the residents is simple: There should be fresh elections for all the posts, it should be free and fair, and must be held under the observation of the office of the registrar.