NCP chief Sharad Pawar-led panel contests election to retain control of 123-yr-old library
A panel led by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar is contesting election for the control of Mumbai Marathi Granth Sangrahalaya (MMGS), a 123-year-old library in Mumbai.
Pawar is contesting for the post of president, while former vice-chancellor of Mumbai University Dr Bhalchandra Mungekar for the post vice president for the library which has 28 branches in the city. The elections will be held on Sunday to elect a president and seven vice presidents who will manage the functioning of the library.
Their opponents are led by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Dhananjay Shinde who has accused Pawar’s panel of stifling democracy by allowing just 34 out of 6,000 members, who are secretaries of various branches, to vote in this election. “We wanted all the 6,000 members to get the right to vote for the elections. However, sensing defeat, they have resorted to twisting the constitution of the MMGS to allow selected people to vote. Even Sharad Pawar does not have the right to vote in this election,” alleged Shinde.
Shinde and some others approached the charity commissioner (the governing authority for all non-government bodies that are registered with it) on Friday for postponement of the elections but suffered a setback as the authority refused to stay the electoral process.
Mungekar who is also a former Rajya Sabha member defended the Pawar panel. “The charity commissioner has rejected the objections raised by our opponents and allowed for the elections to take place. This has validated our position that the elections are legal,” he said.
The MMGS is one of the reputed and well-known libraries, which has a treasure trove of books in the Marathi language. There currently have more than 645,569 books in the library. The library was used by luminaries like Lokmanya Tilak, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and Marathi scholars. However, over the years, the membership has dwindled to about 8,642 from 11,787 members in 2014. There were initially 44 branches, which have now come down to 29. Of these 29, just 21 are actively working. Significantly, the Pawar-led panel has been managing the functioning of the MMGS since 1992. It is for the first time in the almost around three decades that the elections are being held. Earlier, the office-bearers were selected with mutual consent.