From left to right: Rustom Tirandaz, Dinshaw Mehta, Khojeste Mistree, Arnavaz Mistry, Yazdi Desai, Noshir Dadrawala, Jimmy Mistry
What a historic moment for the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), the apex body of the Zoroastrian community, when its new Board of seven Trustees, voted in by the first-ever Universal Adult Franchise, was declared this evening at the packed-to-capacity Banaji Atash Behram Hall.
The ‘Super Seven’ comprises Arnavaz Mistry (10030 votes), Dinshaw Mehta (6791 votes), Jimmy Mistry (6588 votes), Khojeste Mistry (5292 votes), Yazdi Desai (5101 votes), Rustom Tirandaz (4790 votes) and Noshir Dadrawala (4681 votes).
The new Board is to assume office at noon on October 23, at the BPP office at Fort. The community can now heave a sigh of relief that weeks of frenzied duelling for the seven seats is now finally over – and the life can hopefully return to normal again!
The grand finale, however, was not without its nail biting moments. Until well into the afternoon, the situation seemed static, with the same candidates in the lead, in exactly the same order. Then, slowly, once the Dadar ballot boxes were opened, the picture began changing.
Dr. Ketayun Dinshaw started slipping from seventh place, and Rustom Tirandaz (who had been at that slot a day ago) returned. Not only did he consolidate his place there, he then jumped up the queue to sixth place, putting Noshir Dadrawala at seven. Nadir Modi, who has been a respected community stalwart, and was one of the popular candidates in the reckoning, finished close behind Dadrawala at 4648 votes.
The people’s verdict is, necessarily, reflective of the people’s pulse. And there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind now that the community has given a clear vote for tradition and traditionalists.
Dinshaw Mehta and the WAPIZ duo of Khojeste Mistree and Yazdi Desai are confirmed religious conformists, as is Rustom Tirandaz, an old associate of Mehta and a former BPP Trustee.
Arnavaz Mistry is an acclaimed social worker, with her heart in the right place, and this explains the overwhelming faith placed in her with a record 10,000 plus votes. Jimmy Mistry is the new kid-on-the-block, raring to get the community going, but also a traditionalist who has affirmed “I’m 100 per cent orthodox” (in an earlier interview with your columnist).
That leaves the sole representative of the AFP in the BPP, Noshir Dadrawala. He has long been admired for his religious scholarship and writings, and for being a traditionalist, something he defended time and again during the election when his leanings were called into question.
The mood was upbeat, as the newly-elected Trustees exulted in their victory. It was especially heartening to see Khojeste Mistry and Noshir Dadrawala, whose WAPIZ and AFP, respectively, have been gunning for each other these past weeks, shaking hands and promising to work together harmoniously. Both confirmed they meant it when they said, “Let bygones be bygones.”
This is the spirit with which the new Trustees must assume office. The community has been riddled with rift, and sorely needs a healing touch. The new Board must endeavour to act cohesively, placing the interests of the community in housing, education, old age care, and welfare above petty politicking. They should also be determined to respect the people’s verdict and last out the seven-year term without drama. The community cannot afford another election.
SHERNAAZ ENGINEER's blog on the Parsi community