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Durban - Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi was ousted as leader of the Minority Front (MF) at a national party conference on Saturday by long-standing MP Roy Bhoola.
Bhoola was moved into the hot seat unopposed at the packed conference, held at an auditorium at the Ridge Shopping Mall in Shallcross.
However Thakur-Rajbansi, who was visiting a local temple in Chatsworth to mark a birthday, doesn’t recognise the outcome of the conference.
When the Sunday Tribune approached Thakur-Rajbansi for comment on the changes, her SMS response was: “Null and void. Hogwash.”
MF councillor Bikram Bahrat, from KwaDakuza, also objected to the process, but he was told by Ismail Casimjee, who chaired the meeting, that the conference was above board.
The nearly 400 MF delegates from all parts of the province also elected a new national executive committee.
Bhoola’s elevation brings to an end the stranglehold the Rajbansi family have had on the party’s leadership.
Amichand Rajbansi, nicknamed the Bengal Tiger, led the party from when it was formed in 1993 until his death in December. Thakur-Rajbansi, his second wife, took over the leadership in January.
Rajbansi’s son Vimal welcomed the reshuffle and is confident all his father stood for in a political career spanning 51 years was intact.
“I am for the changes and I’m satisfied that democratic processes were followed. The changes will ensure my father’s political legacy lives on,” said Vimal.
“The morale of the MF was low while Shameen was in power but these changes will ensure things will be put right and my father’s hard work during 51 years in politics will not be in vain,” he added.
Bhoola is confident that had the “Tiger” been around, he would have given the conference his seal of approval.
“I’m convinced the Tiger would have been smiling had he been present,” said Bhoola.
“I’m overwhelmed by the confidence shown in me to lead this party and I make it my mission to take the MF to new heights,” said the new leader.
“It will not be an easy task. I will need the support of all the roleplayers,” Bhoola said.
The positions of general secretary and treasurer are also a first for the MF – Amichand Rajbansi was the party’s all-encompassing leader.
Lyndal Singh was voted Bhoola’s deputy, Cassimjee the general secretary and Deenadayaln Govender the treasurer.
Ganas “Oliver” Govender is the MF’s new national chairman with his vice Ronnie Pillay.
When Rajbansi died in December, with no clear directive in the party’s constitution on leadership issues, Thakur-Rajbansi became his successor.
But her rise to the top was not well received by the rank and file of the MF and she was labelled “autocratic” by a dissenting majority.
Since officially taking up the position in January, her leadership has been beset by running battles with party members and her husband’s children over control of the MF and the “Tiger’s” multi-million-rand estate, with most of those disputes being played out in the High Court.
Bhoola was removed from his position as MP by Thakur-Rajbansi but he countered this by getting the court to overturn it.