The battle to wrest control of the 95-year-old Delhi Gymkhana Club has come to the crunch. Lieutenant General Rajender Singh, director general (infantry) and former Western Air Command chief Air Marshal P.S. Ahluwalia will find out where they figure on the popularity index when the club elects its new president on September 26.
The club has around 5,600 permanent members of whom 1,600 are likely to vote for the president and general committee elections. In recent weeks, club members have slogged hard to drum up support.
A cross-section of members, including several past presidents, have argued the President should be elected unopposed “keeping in mind the camaraderie of defence services and club traditions”. In fact, the senior-most officer in the Indian military, Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh, has thrown his weight behind Air Marshal Ahluwalia and asked all members to ensure that the presidential hopeful is elected unopposed.
But some members have no problems with the infighting between service officers. For instance, Ashok Ahooja, a retired squadron leader, said in an e-mail to HT that there has always been a contest among service officers although the current election represents “the toughest fight.”
But Ahluwalia’s camp is unwilling to buy that argument about a multilateral fight saying that the current elections are being held under a different set of circumstances.
A club member, not wishing to be named as he wants “cordial relations” with whoever is elected, said, “Ahluwalia withdrew from the presidential race last year so that the then army chief General J.J. Singh could be elected unopposed.
It was a gentlemen’s understanding that General J.J. Singh would serve as president for one year after which Ahluwalia would stand for elections.”
The club presidentship, which generally rotates between the armed forces and bureaucrats, is for a two-year term. But General J.J. Singh relinquished the post this January after being appointed Arunachal Pradesh governor. The new president will hold the post for a period of one year.