Battle raging for control of Alliance Francaise

Battle raging for control of Alliance Francaise

Two camps are at loggerheads over how the premier organisation should be run

The Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, located in Vasanth Nagar, has hosted several cultural events and encouraged significant collaborations. DH photo

Brickbats are flying as two camps battle for control at the Alliance Francaise de Bangalore.

The war cry was sounded on May 8, when four members—Balan Nambiar, Vinod K Gaur, Chander Prakash Mannar and Adhip Chaudhuri—wrote to the Karnataka government, seeking government intervention to “prevent the progressive degradation of the basic ethos of this institution.”

 There is also a move to seek the dissolution of the governing body and demand the appointment of an independent administrator to run the daily activities of Alliance Francaise de Bangalore.

 Zafer Mohiuddin, president of Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, in his letter to the members on July 12, responded by accusing Dr Philippe Libersa, a French national and former director of Alliance Francaise, of colluding with an accounts manager and using a debit card illegally.  He submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, alleging Philippe had “conquered the administrative and financial powers of the society without remit”.

 Mohiuddin’s contention, as he told Metrolife, was that Philippe used a bank debit card linked to the main account of the society, in violation of the by-laws of the society that prescribe two signatories for banking instruments.

Mohiuddin says he brought the ‘irregularity’ to the notice of the Institute of France in India (IFI) that functions under the Embassy of France, but it did nothing.

Not everyone agrees it is an irregularity. Members Metrolife spoke to said the practice was designed for convenience, and even the current director uses a debit card.

Philippe fled the country without returning the debit card and office phone, Mohiuddin alleges, but the rival camp says the use of words like ‘fled’ is  uncalled for, as he left after receiving a transfer order. The governing body led by Mohiuddin, which suspended the accountant and initiated an inquiry against her, faces the charge that it carried out repairs on the Alliance Francaise building in Vasanth Nagar without proper authorisation.

Mohiuddin argues the institution can be run without directions from France. “The Alliance Francaise de Bangalore is an independent society functioning under the provisions of the Karnataka Societies Act 1960, not in control of any other Indian or foreign institution, including the Embassy of France in India,” he says.

A member from the opposite camp counters this: “You can’t run an India-France institute without a French person at the helm of affairs. Now, the president wants some clauses changed to give the society more powers than the director. How can you change an arrangement that has been running smoothly for four decades?”

Meanwhile, Balan Nambiar, Vinod K Gaur, Chander Prakash Mannar and Adhip Chaudhuri have written to members of Alliance Francaise, replying to Mohiuddin’s allegations.

“AFB operates under a document approved by the Registrar of Societies in Karnataka, namely the Memorandum and Rules and Regulations (as amended up to September 2009). In addition, the affairs of the AFB are also governed in parts by the bipartite triennial agreement entered into by the Embassy of France in India and the AFB,” they say.

The current governing body has failed to renew the triennial agreement because Mohiuddin is harping on points not acceptable to the Embassy of France, they say.

In response to the charge that Philippe obtained a debit card against the rules, they write, “It is a fact that a debit card was issued by the Canara Bank in 2014 when Chiranjiv Singh and late M Bhakthavatsala were the president and the treasurer respectively. It is not a case that the then Director/GS obtained the debit card unilaterally.” 

A former president of the society, who held office for over a decade, said, “We have to wait for the inquiry report to know the truth. If the inquiry reports prove that the director superseded the society, then the government can appoint an administrator, like it did in the case of Chitrakala Parishath, to oversee the functioning. The tenure of the administrator can be extended three times by six months, after which elections will have to be held.”  

52 years old

Alliance Francaise de Bangalore has hosted several cultural events, and encouraged significant collaborations over the decades.

This is how it describes itself on its official website: ‘Located in the heart of an exceptional garden city, the Alliance Française de Bangalore, founded in 1970, is part of the vast network of Alliance Françaises in India and around the world. In addition to its primary vocation which is to teach the French language, the Alliance Française de Bangalore plays a central role in cultural exchanges between India and France.’

 

 

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