Alliance Francaise Pondicherry rocked by power struggle

Apart from the controversy surrounding the elections, the French authorities were not happy with the way Alliance was dragged into the recently held PondyLitFest 2018.   | Photo Credit: T. Singaravelou

The power struggle within the governing executive of the Alliance Francaise Pondicherry (AFP), the oldest in Asia and among the earliest chapters in the world, has resurfaced with a controversial change of guard.

Sources said that the state of affairs in Alliance Francaise, which has as its core mission offering graded French language courses apart from promoting art and culture, had come up for a thorough discussion during the recent visit of Counsellor for Cooperation and Cultural Affairs, French Institute of India, Bertrand de Harting to Puducherry.

In fact, the Counsellor had held a lengthy discussion with French Consul General Catherine Suard on August 31. He also discussed issues pertaining to the controversial election to elect a ten-member executive committee held on November 27 with a select few people, they said.

“Mr. Harting had in fact expressed his displeasure about the way the elections were held,” said one source.

Following the discussions Mr. Harting had with a few “important people,” it was decided to summon a meeting of the executive on September 3. A majority of the members pressed for removal of Lalit Verma from the post of president as they considered that the November election was not held as per bye-laws and well established rules prescribed by the Foundation of Paris, which is the supreme body of Alliance.

It might be recalled that several people had resigned from the executive committee as a mark of protest against the way the election was held.

Apart from the controversy surrounding the elections, the French authorities were not happy with the way Alliance was dragged into the recently held PondyLitFest 2018.

Several political parties had criticised Mr. Verma for associating Alliance with a festival which they construed as being organised by right wing groups. After pressure from several quarters, including French authorities, the events that were to be held in Alliance as part of the fest were shifted to an Ashram building.

Meanwhile a top source at AFP said that no official communique has been received yet.

When contacted, Lalit Verma, said his presidentship of Alliance Francaise is “a matter of status quo” as the election in November last year was done in a democratic manner and in accordance with the bye-laws of the organisation.

Any change to the organisation structure also needs to be in adherence with a clearly laid down charter, said Mr. Verma.

Under his presidentship, the Alliance Francaise in Puducherry had set a record in terms of “events, student enrolments and treasury position.”

This is only the latest episode in a long power struggle within the Alliance Francaise which is already beginning to tell on the morale of the staff.

8 members resign

In July last year, eight of the 10 members of the executive committee of the Alliance Francaise de Pondichery had tendered their resignation in two days.

Those who tendered their resignations on July 18 and 19 include Anandavadivelou S., vice-president; Namassivayane, secretary; Predibane Siva, joint secretary; V. Narayanan, treasurer; Ramaya Kichenamourty and Vengada Soupraya Nayagar.

The two members who remained in a vacuous executive then were Lalit Verma (president) and vice-president Marie-Antoine Desjardins.

Though there appeared to be a patch-up of sorts following the reported intervention of the French Ambassador, the simmering differences seem to have remained within the ten-member governing executive of the organisation.

In December, four members — Nallam Sathish, Ramya Krishnamurti, Namasivayame and Fovindarajulu — had resigned as office-bearers of Alliance Francaise, claiming that the election was not held in the presence of the Director and statutes were not followed.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 1:22:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/alliance-francaise-pondicherry-rocked-by-power-struggle/article24867238.ece

Next Story