Final chase for Turf Club chair, seats today

Updated: Sep 11, 2019, 07:57 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

It is tough talk and politics as RWITC chairman race heats up; contenders let fly with verbal punching and number crunching

Zavaray Poonawalla
Zavaray Poonawalla

The race for the committee seats and chairman of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) enters its final furlong today. The club's 104th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and voting is to be held at the Nehru Centre in Worli this evening from 4.50 pm to 7 pm. As many as 1,203 e-votes have already been polled. A racing regular said, "We expect about 250 to 300 persons to come to the venue today."

Those contesting have been split into two camps, with current chairman Khushroo Dhunjibhoy's team of Sunil Jhangiani, Jaydev Mody, Vijay Shirke and Ram Shroff on one side. Dhunjibhoy is up against Zavaray Poonawalla who has Geoffrey Nagpal, Zenia Lawyer, Milan Luthria and Surendra Sanas in his corner. There is old warhorse Vivek Jain contesting as an independent. Jain said, "I had first put in my name and then decided to withdraw. However, I was told that the withdrawal could not happen because it was too late. So, I have decided to contest, anyway." There are 11 candidates for the committee with nine places up for grabs.

Khushroo Dhunjibhoy
Khushroo Dhunjibhoy

Zavaray Poonawalla or ZSP as he is known at the race course said that, "I decided to contest because years ago I had told myself that if the club ever got into serious trouble, I would step in to save the club. I want to stress the team aspect. I am working with the Turf authorities, so 'we' are working to decrease the GST."

When told though that there is cynicism about GST being reduced, the former chairman said, "When Zavaray Poonawalla with his dedicated team says something he usually completes it — 9/10. Members must know that there are R10 crores with the club currently because of the Gallops deal. Things are dire. I will work till the cows come home to save the Turf Club."

Jaydev Mody from Dhunjibhoy's camp said that the club had, "more than R10 crore and to use this figure is politics and an attempt to create panic." Dhunjibhoy (KND), current chairman and contesting to retain his seat stated that as of, "July 31, 2019, the club has money invested in mutual funds, fixed deposits and banks to the tune of R56 crore and this has probably increased since then, not decreased."

Dhunjibhoy said, "Lowering of GST is the need of the hour and the effort is at the Turf Authority level. It has been ongoing for a year and while it is a much-awaited relief, there is no guarantee if and when it will become a reality and it is good to have other plans to boost revenue." He laughed when asked why he would like to wear what people call a 'crown of thorns' again simply saying that "compared to last year, this is a hotly-contested election."

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