The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) saw one of its most eventful annual general meetings (AGM) on July 30, 2010, when Sandeep Goyal, Chairman, Dentsu India, challenged AAAI norms and contested for the AAAI President elections against Nagesh Alai, Executive Director, Interface Communications. Alai won the elections by two votes – one less vote, and the AAAI would have to call for a re-poll.
The AGM was also punctuated with heated discussions at various points like in the scrutiny of the proxy votes and even on the ballot papers. The appointment of the Vice President was another interesting highlight, when the President suggested the name of Neville Gomes (Multimedia Aquarius) for the post. The suggestion was, however, challenged, and Sandeep Goyal suggested Lynn de Souza for the position, which was then unanimously accepted.
The AAAI have had an interesting AGM and the last month had built enough hype around the President election too. Even as the election is now over, the final word on it is not heard yet.
In a conversation with exchange4media, Goyal called the process a “gutter fight”, and elaborated, “I am stunned by what I have been confronted with. I stood up to be counted so that I could do good for the advertising industry. I put out an aggressive agenda on industry issues. I ignited debate. But, I did not bargain for a gutter fight. The conduct of the elections and the rampant manipulation of proxies by Alai’s group put professional politicians to shame. I am not power hungry. A 48:46 verdict needs no elaboration on how it was achieved when the entire election machinery was controlled by Alai and the ruling group.”
Another member, on condition of anonymity, explained, “As late as July 19, AAAI sent a Communication (No. AAAI/015/2010) saying, ‘For the sake of clarity, we would like to inform members that Rule No.1 of the Election Rules states: Every member shall have one vote for the purpose of any election…’. However, the ballot papers for the Categories came printed with ‘please tick up to 2 candidates’, converting some proxies into double votes. So, for instance, Rajesh Aggarwal with 20 proxies and eight floor votes would have topped the list of winning candidates with 28 out of 60 possible votes. The other two candidates would have shared 32 remaining votes in a one-vote system. With the new two-vote system, Aggarwal was relegated to third place and made to lose. Neville Gomes, Returning Officer, was the gainer and winner. The scrutineers were over-ruled by Gomes, though their ruling clearly favoured the one-vote rule.”
Sources informed that Goyal was contemplating legal recourse, and had even sought counsel from lawyers. On being asked, he said, “Many members have called me and told me to take the matter to court. I can do that, but I am wondering if I have anything to gain from trying to throw out this ruling clique. Their desperation is showing in the rigged result. They have discredited themselves by shamelessly and blatantly altering the rules and grabbing EC positions for themselves. All members are watching their unethical conduct.”
Yet another member pointed out that despite prior written request, and provision in Law, representatives were not allowed to sit as observers during the scrutiny of proxies. Neville Gomes, the Secretary, and a Contestant in Category 1, was Returning Officer. Another point raised was of the Executive Secretary calling up members for blank proxies. It is understood that specific agencies are going to put out affidavits on his interference. This point, too, was raised at the AGM.
There clearly is significantly more one is going to hear on this election.