When will we stop fighting?

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When will we stop fighting?

Delhi Medical Association elections over many years have become a dirty game with contestants carrying out a negative SMS campaign.

This year the election had three contestants for the post of the President, with Dr. Sharad Lakhotia contesting as an independent candidate, besides Dr Anil Goyal from the Karma group and Dr Ramesh Dutta from previous Faith group. Dr Dutta had earlier served as a DMA President. This was for the first time after many decades that somebody wanted to re-contest as President for DMA.

While Dr. Goyal was contesting with his background of being a specialist and a Chairman of the CME Committee of the Delhi Medical Council, Dr. Dutta’s, also a specialist, basic contention was that earlier when he was the President of DMA, he had not been allowed to work to his expectations by the then Secretary DMA. Dr. Lakhotia, again a specialist, started on the right wicket but soon ended up with a sustained negative camp, which apparently annoyed many people.

As doctors, we always teach people to talk transparent and positive and that too in the interest of the medical fraternity.

One of the points raised in the elections was that a doctor, who wants to become the President of DMA, spends about Rs. 50 lakhs and after becoming the President, he has to recover back that amount and for that he has to indulge into corruption.

I personally feel that both the statements are without scientific facts. Firstly, the finances of the Delhi Medical Association are not in the hands of the President. When I was President DMA, I did not sign a single cheque that year. It is the Secretary and the Treasurer, who have the authority to sign checks and their elections are not held the way the elections for the President are held. The Secretary and Treasurer are chosen from amongst the Executive Members elected by various branches. The accounts are further controlled by a Finance Committee, which along with its chairman is chosen by the General Body Meeting held on 31st March every year. Accounts passed by the Finance Committee are then approved by the Executive Meeting and later finally by the General House.

In a system like this, it is impossible for anybody to be a part of corruption or indulge into corruption. If someone does so, then the executive members have a right to raise the point in the monthly Executive Meetings.

Another point raised was that the candidate has to spend about Rs. 50 lakhs to win the election. This also does not seem to be true. The elections of President are held along with two Vice Presidents and the voting is done in five zones.

DMA is controlled by its Executive Members. One person represents 150 members of the branch. These executive members are the backbone of DMA politics.

The average number of voters is 4000, which means 27 voters per executive member. It is not difficult for executive member to campaign, convince and motivate 40 members each to come and vote. This does not require any finances.

It was said that candidates throw parties to lure the voters. I know that in my branch, no party has ever been hosted in the last five years.

I am aware of the South Delhi branch of DMA where all the hardcore DMA workers meet and plan for the DMA elections and contribute for their meetings.

Every branch has 40 to 50 committed workers who meet and decide the strategy of winning an election.

All the branches of DMA have to complete their elections before 22nd of February and hence most of them will have their annual elections by the first week of February.

Indirectly, these branch elections are linked to DMA elections as DMA executive members are to be elected by Branches. To hold branch elections, the contestants pool allowable finances to win the branch elections and DMA executive posts and IMA central council posts.

Annual meetings of the branches are also held near the election days. For example, the South Delhi Annual Convention was held on 3rd February this year and DMA elections on 12th February. Every branch annual meet will have some CME fund raised to hold scientific meets. The DMA candidates have an opportunity to project themselves during these meetings.

In DMA bylaws, once the code of conduct is enforced, any type of campaign is prohibited and sponsoring of dinners is also prohibited.

Friends and well-wishers of the candidate do host smaller meetings but these have nothing to do with the funding from the contestants.

As of today, there is nothing in the constitution as to how much a person can spend on election in SMS, emails, door to door campaigning, leaflets, pamphlets or posting. Till that happens, these election expenses will be borne by the candidates.

Another point raised was that illegal annual members are made at the time of election.

Most of the young non members become members of IMA only after knowing its activities. Every branch has to have a membership drive for which they have to designate specific months for the same. In DMA most branches have membership drive from September to December.

At a national level in IMA, awards are given to members who make maximum new members. People who become members in November, December will have to pay an annual membership fee of only six months.

Branches are allowed to bring schemes to attract new memberships.  During the 6-month membership, new members get to know of the IMA activities and other members and most of them subsequently become life members of IMA.

Most branches choose membership months so that they coincide with the annual elections so that new members get an opportunity to participate in the annual DMA elections as this is the only time when approximately 1000 people gather in each of the zones (south, east, west and north). The new members get to know the strength of the IMA only at these gatherings.

I personally feel the people should not fight in the organization and work together in the interest of the medical profession. Already at a national level, all the States work in a cohesive manner and decide the national working. I recall in 1991 when I was the Vice President of DMA, there was a group of 8-10 doctors who used to sit together and decide the working of DMA. The time has come for that to happen again. All the stakeholders should sit together.

Politics is a hardcore honorary profession and requires devotion and commitment by people who are into it. When I was President DMA in 2005 and President (Elect) DMA in 2004, I literally spent six honorary hours every day for two full years. Even now, when I am Vice President (Elect) of IMA, I spend 2-3 honorary hours every day either at home or at IMA office doing the IMA work.

It is because of IMA that Clinical Establishment Act till today has not been passed by the government; doctors’ establishments are not being harassed by the MCD; under the PNDT Act, doctors are not being harassed and relations of patients can no more break medical establishments on disputes.

Today, IMA has over 2.2 lakh members, 1768 branches and 29 State branches. Let us all do our bit and work in the interest of the medical profession. I personally feel that everybody should become a member of medical association and people who do not vote for five consecutive years should be debarred from IMA membership. Even the MCI regulations endorses that everyone should become a member of an association.

Remember IMA is not just the four walls of a building. It is WE who make IMA. Let us all start contributing to IMA and make it one of the strongest bodies in the country.