Controversy gets the better of Mayank Gandhi, again
After missing a chance to make political entry with Lok Satta some years ago, core IAC member now finds himself caught in controversy days before outfit formally transforms into party
History seems to be repeating itself for Mayank Gandhi. One of the core committee members of India Against Corruption (IAC), Gandhi would have been a politician by now had things worked out. The situation is more or less similar to the one Gandhi found himself in 2007, when he moved out of a movement citing various reasons.
Gandhi had joined the Lok Satta Movement in 2005-06 and worked with it for two years, but then he left midway because, in his own words, petty politics within the movement did not give him the feel-good feeling.
Subsequently, a year-and-half ago, Gandhi got associated with the IAC movement. And now, when it is at a stage where IAC is transforming into a political party, Gandhi is again in the midst of controversy.
The Lok Satta Party run by Hyderabad-based politician J P Narayan was just a movement in the early days of 2005-06 when Gandhi became associated with it. One of the biggest achievements of the movement was to get citizen candidate, Adolf D’souza, elected as a corporator from Juhu. But just before the 2007 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections, Gandhi quit Lok Satta.
“Yes, Mayank was with the Lok Satta Movement, but then by the time we could form the party, he had gone,” said Surendra Srivastava, a senior leader of the Lok Satta Party who replaced Gandhi. “The party was formed in 2009, and Mayank left us during the BMC elections. It would be better if you ask Mayank why he left or why he didn’t stay on with the party.”
Gandhi said the reasons for his break with the Lok Satta Movement were different from the IAC matter.
“It does feel like the same, but I had quit Lok Satta because of petty internal politics, which I didn’t like. I am not someone to get involved in gossiping and instead I wanted to do concrete work. Hence, I quit the movement. However, unlike now, there weren’t any financial issues linked to my exit,” he said.
While IAC is set to formally turn into a political party next month, Gandhi finds himself facing tax-evasion allegations from one-time IAC colleague Viren Shah.
The allegations pertain to the time when Gandhi was part of the Remaking of Mumbai Federation, an NGO that wanted to carry out cluster redevelopment in ‘C’ Ward.
“It seems everyone wants to say something or the other and wants to be seen on TV,” Gandhi said. “I don’t know what the allegations are against me; I tried speaking to Viren the other day and he didn’t tell me anything specific. I don’t think Viren himself is aware of what he is speaking.”