Most of the 10 trade activists who had dissociated from the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on the issue of constitutional reforms are unlikely to hold office even after some of them were re-elected to the decision making executive committee. They had made their decision clear to the outgoing KCCI leadership well before the verdict was made public on the weekend.
“It is being projected that we dissociated in opposition to the outcome of a process but the fact is that we had problems with the process itself,” one of the ten trade leaders said. “We had initiated reforms in the constitution that were stuck at a time when the polls were round the corner so we had no option even for withdrawing the nominations of some of us who had filed their papers.” It was at that very moment that the group seeking systemic changes in the trade body decided to stay away regardless of the outcome of the polls.
Muazam Bakhshi, who has served the KCCI for a long time and was its Junior Vice President and member of the Executive Committee tendered his resignation well before the results of the polls were announced. “I had taken the decision well before the polls were announced so I stick to my decision,” Bakhshi said. “It is immaterial whether I was elected to the EC or not.”
Ten trade leaders who have served the KCCI in different capacities for a long time had dissociated themselves in two groups: two and eight. Of the eight four were elected to the EC in the recent polls. These include Nazir Ahmad Wani, Mauzam Bakshi, Prof A R Wani and Sheikh Zahoor Ahmad. At least two of them have asserted that they will not change their decision.
“It is not a battle for who is elected and who is not,” Fayaz Ahmad, one of the eight trade leaders said. “We had initiated reforms and they were blocked at a crucial time that led us to take the decision.”
KCCI, the oldest trade body in the state, has the most confusing systems of elections. Its members elect 19 persons to the executive committee, its highest decision making body, through a secret ballot. Then another election elects six of the EC members to run the KCCI and this is through voice vote or, if there is a contest through secret ballot. Interesting part of the election is that there is proxy voting and a questionable mechanism to identify the voter.
While the effort was to change these basics, the reforms allegedly were caught in a mess at the most crucial time of the change. This led to the pro-reform group dissociate from the Chamber.
Outgoing KCCI President Hamid Punjabi said he did his best and the election got a new team to the KCCI. “I did whatever I could but somehow the amendments in the constitution could not take place,” Punjabi said. “We have a half a century old constitution and it needs changes to make it modern that could address the new realities.” He hoped the new officer bearers, the past presidents and the new EC will ensure the constitution is adequately amended as the process of identifying changes had already completed. “We held the election according to the old constitution,” he said.
The elections, results of which were made public on weekend, Sheikh Ashiq is the new president, Mushtaq Ahmed Wani is senior vice president, Javid Ahmad Bhat (tenga) is junior vice president, Syed Musadiq Shah is Secretary General, Faiz Ahmad Bakshi is joint secretary general and Dr Gazalla Amin is treasurer.