Baha’i Control On Their Electoral System – Part I

IT IS SELECTION NOT ELECTION

Bahai Elections: Brainless Exercise?

Bahai Elections: Brainless Exercise?

A. A study of Baha’i institutions

Many control mechanisms relate to the electoral system and the realities of power are existing in the Bahai community. Early Baha’is allowed nominations to be made for Baha’i office, and also allowed campaigning for Baha’i Institution. When early Baha’is asked `Abdu’l-Baha how they should conduct elections for local spiritual assemblies he replied that they should follow the rules for election common in their own country
(`Abdu’l-Baha 1908-1916: I,7).

Van den Hoonard points out that nominations and canvassing for Baha’i office were standard practice in North America in the time of `Abdu’l-Baha (van den Hoonard 1996:157-158).

Bahai Institutions abolished the practice of nominations and campaigning for elective Baha’i office in accordance with Iranian Baha’i practice. Although ending these practices appears to have a reason, as the community grew it became impossible for Baha’i elective institutions to have a control over the elections and to bring only those candidates whom they rely and decide.

CRITICISM OF BAHA’I INSTITUTIONS BY A BAHA’I IS CONSIDERED AN ACT OF “COVENANT BREAKING.”

Criticism of Baha’i institutions by a Baha’i is considered an act of “Covenant Breaking” and is often branded a “dishonest attack” on the Baha’i faith, punishable by shunning. After a vote has been taken, all the members of the Baha’i community must support the result, and defeated minorities may not continue to criticize . This theory of political behavior denies the need for checks and balances.

The placing of elected bodies above public criticism and the silencing of defeated minorities has had predictable effects at the national level.

BAHAI ELECTIONS ARE INFACT SELECTIONS

BAHAI ELECTORAL RESULTS ARE SKEWED IN THREE WAYS.

First
The National Spiritual Assembly enjoys all the advantages of controlling the image of potential NSA members in the national newspaper, The Baha’I News India (an organ of the N.S.A.), sending these incumbents to local communities, and sending members around to conferences, which enhances their visibility (all this is paid for out of the national Baha’i fund). These advantages of incumbency are especially very useful in a system where no campaigning for office by others is allowed.

Second,
The sitting members often promote close associates onto the body, “flying them around to conferences,” appointing them to high-powered national committees, and giving them prominence at important events . Since speaking openly about candidates is not allowed, subtle non-verbal signals have taken on extreme importance for delegates, who seem willing to be guided by the incumbents in these indirect ways.

So the future members of the NSA is made a part of an orchestra conducted by the N.S.A Formally approved by Universal House of Justice and supported by the Continental Counsellor present in the Convention.

Third,
Some campaigns are launched by unannounced candidates who go about the country giving talks. Such informal campaigning, the  National Spiritual Assembly occasionally stops by ordering the person’s talks cancelled, or, if chairmanship of a national committee is becoming a platform for popularity, by firing the individual.

Baha’is call these manipulation of elections, as divinely inspired. Control Mechanisms and Sanctions.

Baha’i leaders employ a number of important control mechanisms to control the Baha’is. These include removal of voting rights, shunning, demands for sticking to traditions, accusations of “weakness in the covenant,” informing and surveillance, and various forms of censorship. Many of these tools are employed basically against persons who are somehow prominent or appear to have leadership potential but do not seem easy for incumbents to control, or against intellectuals

The prohibition of nominations and campaigning leads administrators to feel a need for strict controls on Baha’i discourse, and often to the avoidance of even mentioning leaders by name in public, which would be considered as “backbiting.”

The ban on campaigning leads to a situation where a great deal of suspicion falls on any active intellectual not directly controlled by the N.S.A. Great suspicion attaches to any Baha’i teacher or lecturer who is not an elected or appointed official and is thought to be “gaining a following.”:

B. A study of Indian Baha’i Institution

National Convention

Delegates
Till about 1986 there were about 171 delegates, courtesy Oliyai Family. These delegates were in accordance with the paper Baha’is projected by the Oliyai family which controlled the NSA elections. False statistics were given by which a large number of delegates were procurred.These delegates were given free Delhi trip and free lodging and boarding and were asked to vote for particular candidates .One of the delegate reported
“While all of us were coming from Gwalior in a Jeep for National Convention, one of the delegates said,” Nissan Oliyai is a very good boy, vote for him.”

Many of the decisions of the NSA were taken outside NSA as Oliyai family enjoyed the majority. A set of decisions were made and it was circulated amongst their friends to finally approve them in the meeting.

Once the members were of no use they were dropped from the NSA list in the next elections.
Mr. Bargawa in 1972
Mr. Khare in 1986
Mr. & Mrs. Gandhi in 2000
Mr. Khemani in 2000
Mr. Shah in 2003

Later on the UHJ cut short the number of delegates from 171 to 38 to cut Oliyai family to size, but HOUSE failed miserably.

Letter of Universal House of Justice dated 20th September 1988
The allocation of 38 delegated to India is a temporary measure.
{11th meeting of NSA, 26th and 27th may 1993.}

Canvassing in the National Convention
A full scale canvassing is being done during the National convention, the NSA members show deep interest in the delegates enquiring about every minor and finer points of their states, to convey to the delegates that they are very true and faithful Baha’is and always wish for the development of the Faith in his state. This concern goes down till the Ballot paper. And once the Election is over, everything is backed to original state.

Some of the members although unable to pronounce clearly Allahabha use to greet every delegate with a loud welcome of ALLAHUABHA .To show that they are completely PERSIANISED.

The NSA members also do not fail in giving treats to the delegates of ICE CREAMS, who under ordinary days will not even bother to glance at them.

The consultation during conventions are a major platform to project the Candidates for the NSA election. All the speeches are occupied by outgoing NSA members where they leave no stone unturned to show that they are the one “Human with potentials” and deserved to become the NSA members.

Although Hindi is the Mother Tongue of a large number of the delegates, the NSA members will give big speeches in English, which is not even understood by a large number of delegates, but English is the effective way of proving that the are PERSONS WITH CAPACITY

The NSA also decides during the year to have meetings in different states. This is just a publicity stunt and to impress upon the delegates who will be attending the convention.

False Voting
A teller reported that a number of Ballot papers are received by post with the same name repeated in the same order showing that the source of all these ballot papers are one

The total numbers of delegates present in the convention were 17.The total number of ballots received and counted were33.
.
All these is well known by the Counselor present in the convention.It all takes place with the effective approval of the UHJ as they do not want any unapproved member on NSA .

UHJ interference in elections
Many a times the appointment of Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer came from UHJ, there was no election, only selection, but it was announced as election of the office bearers. It was clear that the House was very interested in appointment of certain member as a Treasurer.

Many a times Members of the House attended the NSA of India meeting and requested certain members to resign.

Present Scenario

The UHJ controls every bit of NSA members and their decisions,
1-Mr. Payman Mohajir is the person responsible for India .He is in direct contact with Mrs. Farideh Vahidi who cares a damn not only to the various departments of  NSA but also to her host Country.
When one of the employees of the Bahai House, who was unjustly removed after his long years of services asked her to follow the law of the Land,
She said “I care a damn about your Country and its Laws.”

The election of Mrs. Sorabji is actually an election of Mr. Sorabji .It should be known that a non-Bahai Mr. Sorabji is more useful to the Faith then Mrs. Sorabji.As amount of power he yields in the Government.

Mr. Sohail Mohajir. Yes the Surname matters a lot to UHJ.

So the main decision taker is UHJ through Mr. Paymen Mohajir supported by Mrs. Vahidi, Mrs. Sorabji Mrs. Nazneen Rohani and ofcourse one can take Mr. Mohajir for granted because of his surname.

To put aside any discrepancies Mr. Satnam is appointed as the consultant showing the real position of Indian counselors.

Not to mention all other members NSA are just a show piece. Congrats to Mr. Sarwal and Dr. Ansari for their self respect.

Read More: PART II | PART III

PREPARED BY: FORMER MEMBERS OF NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF INDIA.

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About imranshaykh
I am a student of comparative religion with a special interest in Islam and The Bahai Faith

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