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Minority Front factions causes friction

Published Aug 29, 2012

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Durban - The Minority Front (MF) could have a new leader in place very soon and Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi knows nothing about it.

Amichand Rajbansi's son, Vimal, said this week that he was ready to step in to “save” the Minority Front adding that his mother and the late founder Amichand Rajbani’s first wife, Asha Devi Rajbansi, would be back to turn the fractured political party around.

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Speaking to POST on Monday, Vimal called on Thakur-Rajbansi to step down as leader of the MF and to resign as a trustee of the Rajbansi Family Trust.

“Shameen needs to step down, it's as simple as that. She has been given a chance to sort out the problems within the party and has failed to adhere to certain agreements in that regard,” said Vimal.

Vimal said he stepped in to broker peace between factions within the party a month ago.

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“I am simply a son who is trying to protect my father's legacy. He worked very hard to turn this political party into the force it is .

“If something is not done to turn the party into a fully structured organisation based on democratic principles, then we will be failing his vision,” said Vimal.

He added that Thakur-Rajbansi was asked to remove Vimmi Ramdass from the provincial legislature as her appointment was “irregular”, dissolve the party’s current National Executive Committee (NEC), and put a management committee in place to run party affairs in the interim.

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“So far the NEC has not convened as per the agreement. The other two conditions have not been met. My aim is simple. I want to cleanse the MF of deviousness and get it running on clean administration.

“I have already called for a full audit and any parties found to be implicated will be brought to book,” said Vimal.

The dramatic events could see Asha Devi Rajbansi return to the MF and possibly replacing Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi at the helm of the party.

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Asha Devi shot to prominence as Amichand Rajbansi's wife during the days of the Tri-Cameral Parliament. She often referred to Rajbansi as her “hero” and once proclaimed that she would “sleep on a bed of nails” for him.

Apart from her role as a wife and mother, Asha Devi was actively involved in local government, first with Rajbansi's National People’s Party (NPP) and then with the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

It is this experience that Vimal says will help turn the party around.

“There is definitely a role in the Minority Front for Asha Devi. My mum still loves my dad very much and helped him build this party. She knows local government and has a wealth of experience. We will draw on this and turn the party around.

“It is time for the Rajbansis to step in and save the party, but only if we are democratically elected,” said Vimal.

Asha Devi declined to comment to the media, saying that she was still observing the one-year mourning period for her former husband and out of respect would prefer not to comment.

Vimal's sister, Vimlesh Rajbansi, said that she supported her brother's endeavours.

“My father dedicated his heart and soul to serving his community. He did so until the very last day when he was hospitalised in the hope of serving his people for many more years.

“In honour of maintaining and extending the dignity and credibility of our family name, the only person capable of fulfilling this vision is the one whose blood truly flows as Amichand Rajbansi. I dedicate my full support to this vision,” said Vimlesh.

Several councillors have also voiced their approval for the move, with one saying that Asha Devi and Vimal were the party's “last hope”.

“Asha Devi is well versed in local government. There is a strong need for the Indian South African voice and there is no better person than Asha Devi,” said a councillor who declined to be named.

Roy Bhoola, the party's parliamentary leader, did not want to be drawn on the matter but said that the constitution of the Minority Front made provisions for all South Africans to be members of the party. “Any member who can add growth and impetus to the party will be welcomed,” said Bhoola.

MF leader Thakur-Rajbansi said she was not aware of any new developments. “I have no knowledge of these new stories. Thanks for informing me,” she said via SMS.

When pressed for comment, Thakur-Rajbansi replied, “Just surprised based on previous interviews”.

Political analyst Lubna Nadvi said the move clearly signalled that there were multiple concerns regarding the functioning of the party and its leadership.

She said: “It is interesting that Vimal has indicated his interest to ‘saving’ the party at this juncture. However, given that the party is the domain of its members and officials and should not be dominated by any one family, this issue should be debated among the legitimate officials of the party.

“Hence it is important that his coming in at this point is democratically sanctioned by the main party office bearers,” said Nadvi.

She added that the impact of Asha Devi's return to politics remained to be seen. “Asha Devi has been out of the limelight for a while. If she does play a more prominent role in the MF, it remains to be seen how she will perform in that capacity, and whether she has the skills to carry out this task effectively,” said Nadvi. POST

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