KAMPALA – The disagreement in the Indian Community in Uganda over the upcoming visit of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a new twist after 15 heads of the different associations petitioned the Indian High Commissioner to Uganda Ravi Shanka, claiming they are being sidelined from organizing the visit.
Mr Modi is slated to visit Uganda on July 24, accompanied by a big business delegation. He will hold bilateral talks with President Museveni and also officially open the convention Center in Entebbe.
However, 15 heads of the different Indian community associations, on July wrote to Mr Shanka, protesting the manner in which the High Commissioner elected the 10-man committee to welcome the Prime Minister. They say the committee is not representative enough of the community associations.
“We the undersigned heads/officer bearers of various committees strongly protest and express a great sense of dissatisfaction in which the core committee was nominated by your good offices, despite discussions and agreement of Mr Vijay Chauthaivale that at least 20 leaders from various communities, associations and bodies be nominated,” the letter to the High Commissioner reads in part.
It adds: “To our utter dismay, your office pronounced 10 names of the core committee of which a majority and past or present leaders of the present association, which association we may add is not one with the grass root level of representation as against the bodies that have been left out.”
The letter is signed by representatives from Jitu Sorathiya, Paresh Mehta, Hindu Council of Africa, Paresh Sharma, North Gujarat Association and Lohanna Community, among others.
The community leaders also accuse the standing committee of inflating the budget for the visit.
“To add to the injury, the actions of the said core committee have so far been grossly unbecoming of a sound leadership, which with the proposed budget of expenditure of over one billion shillings, and unclear intentions in choosing the venue for the address by the PM,” the letter says.
“This event does not certainly call for a Bollywood singer to ridiculously add to the costs. This in addition to misusing the self-proclaimed positions for gains in personal businesses and standings. A whole clear indication of lack of transparency in the whole management so far,” the letter adds.
The community associations have urged the High Commissioner to intervene and nominate a new committee.
“In order to salvage the situation and to maintain harmony with all the communities and to put an end to the damaging reports circulating in the social media, we as heads of various communities, in expressing our faith in your sense of judgment, implore to intervene, as there is yet time, and call a fresh meeting of all communities and associations in order, to nominate one leader from each as a true representation of all communities living in Uganda. This will include religious and social organizations like Indian Association,” the letter says.
The development comes a week after some members of the organizing Committee accused the Indian High Commissioner to Uganda Ravi Shankar of conniving with former Rubaga North legislator Mr Singh Katongole to swindle billions raised by the community towards organising the highly billed event.
The envoy is also accused of developing cliques in the 20,000 strong Indian Association of Uganda. The association has held Indians together 1922.
“Ravi Shankar the Commissioner is silently dealing with Singh Katongole and Pradeep Karia, the Director of Property Services to deny some Indians opposed to his extortionist tendencies an opportunity to interface with some of the multi-billionaires who will accompany Prime Minister Modi on the historic visit,” a source within the organising Committee said.
“Ravi Shankar and Singh are working secretly with Pradeep by playing politics with other Indians which this will for sure leave Indian Association torn apart before and after this event,” the source said.
The is also accusing them of monopolising business deals with Pradeep Karia and his Partner in business Silu Virani.
Mr. Pradeep was recently sighted cases of land grabbing with Mr Toshik Patel and the embattled Minister of Lands Betty Amongi before the land commission that is currently investigating corruption in the land sector.