Elections to the prestigious Delhi Gymkhana Club always make news, but for wrong reasons.
While last year saw a fight among the armed forces, this year’s battle is between armed forces and bureaucrats as current president Air Marshal (retd) P.S. Ahluwalia takes on Income Tax Chief Commissioner Prakash Chandra.
While the two battle it out, it’s party time for members — Delhi’s high-powered social circle — as candidates lure them with lunches and dinners.
About 25 candidates are in the fray for the September 26 polls to the 16-member General Committee, including the president of the club, which has a total membership of 13,476, of which only 5,600 permanent members have voting rights.
Both sides are seeking votes on convention and continuity.
The camp owing allegiance to Chandra charge Ahluwalia with the “breach of convention” the club has followed since 1950 — the president’s post would be rotated between civil and defence services every two years, each term for one year.
However, the Ahluwalia camp said a another convention in practice for many years now is that each elected candidate would be given two consecutive years in office.
Ahluwalia took over as president in 2008. His predecessor — then army chief General J.J. Singh — had to relinquish the post after seven months in February 2008 on his anointment as Arunachal Pradesh governor. Lt Gen M.R. Kochhar later assumed the post as an interim arrangement.
While the two presidential candidates could not be contacted, HT spoke to some members, who requested anonymity, as they didn’t want to be seen taking sides.
“The club requires a full-time president. Serving officers don’t have time for club matters,” said a supporter of Ahluwalia. “The club can’t be run by proxy.”
However, a Chandra supporter said: “All serving officers elected as presidents in the past have done justice to the post.” The two sides have roped in some past presidents and senior members for canvassing and members are being flooded with appeals and reasons to vote for their candidate.