Showdown Looms In Sangam Meeting

A showdown looms between two rival groups in the Then India Sanmarga Ikya (TISI) Sangam Convention annual general meeting in Nadi this morning. One group is headed by outgoing president
29 May 2016 10:24
Showdown Looms In Sangam Meeting

A showdown looms between two rival groups in the Then India Sanmarga Ikya (TISI) Sangam Convention annual general meeting in Nadi this morning.

One group is headed by outgoing president Sadasivan Naicker and secretary-general Damend Gounder.

The other group is led by lawyer Dorsami Naidu, who is contesting the presidential post.

It is understood that political differences are the root cause of the division.

Mr Gounder said: “The meeting has been cancelled.”

But Mr Naidu said the meeting was going ahead as scheduled. He said only the members had the power to cancel it not the officials.

Mr Gounder said: “As Secretary-General, I have been advised by the Nadi Police Station about our meeting. We have been asked to stop the meeting. And as per the law, we have cancelled the meeting.”

The following are excerpts of my phone interview with Mr Gounder:

Delaibatiki: Why has the meeting being cancelled? Why did the Nadi Police stop the meeting?

Mr Gounder: There was a meeting this afternoon and there was a major disruption because no procedures have been followed. And all is out of our hands.

The meeting had to be stopped midway. And in light of that, the Police advised to stop all meetings.

Delaibatiki: But this other group are saying they are going to go ahead with the meeting tomorrow.

Gounder: There is no other group who can do the meetings. You know what the rules of the law is. There is only one elected group. And we got to regroup and find the right way and right day to recall the meeting.

Delaibatiki: We spoke with Dorsami Naidu

Mr Gounder: Dorsami Naidu is not an executive for the organisation.

Delaibatiki: He said he was an immediate past president.

Mr Gounder: Yeah, but he does not have the…, apparently…. I don’t want to discuss that. As far as we have said, and you can say that the Secretary-General has confirmed that the meeting is cancelled. And any other meetings they want to hold is not possible.

Delaibatiki: And if they go ahead with the meeting, are you going to challenge it?

Mr Gounder: I am not sure about the challenge but there is no other meeting being held tomorrow.

Nadi officer in charge Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Simione Bale said that Sangam executives did ask for Police to be present during their AGM.

“What transpired from there I certainly have no clue about? Anything regarding the permit, the DO Nadi should be consulted as his office do handle that,” he said.

Meanwhile, district officer Nadi Osea Ravukivuki could not be reached to comment last night.

The Sangam is an organisation which promotes the culture and language of those descended from South Indians brought to Fiji as indentured labour.

Mr Naidu issued this statement last night: “The annual general meeting of the TISI Sangam National will continue tomorrow as scheduled.

“Some disgruntled members attempted to stop the meeting by giving a press release which is unconstitutional.

“The authorities have confirmed that the permit is valid and in place. Under the constitution of Sangam, the   AGM once scheduled can only be cancelled by the members themselves.

“Members are asked to attend the Annual General Meeting at 10am on  Sunday  (today) 29th May 2016  at SSKMCollege Nadi.

Mr Naicker’s anti-Government statement on the issues of a Girmit holiday and the proposed sugar industry reforms caused discomfort on Friday among several Sangam members. This was specially so because the chief guest, President Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote, was present. The sentiments were similar to the position of some political parties opposed to the Government. It is believed that many ordinary members of the Sangam, who previously were members of other political parties have now joined FijiFirst.

The AGM this morning will show how big this support is. Mr Naidu and Minister for Local Government, Housing and Environment Parveen Kumar are contesting the president’s post.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce


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