The Trust Board of the Ashram Trust is scrambling for damage control following the conscientious resignation of the senior-most Trustee of the Ashram, Albert Patel.
At first the Trustees begged Albert-da not to resign. When they found him adamant, Manoj Das Gupta, the Managing Trustee, put great pressure on him to sign a second letter of resignation where he would declare his resignation on grounds of “loss of memory and ill-health”. This is a dangerous trick that he has played with others earlier, but which everyone sees through now.
Failing all these options, Manoj Das Gupta has now ordered his men to spread the word that Albert-da is resigning only in March and not before.
Meanwhile the Trustees are in a desperate search to find a suitable successor. But this is not an easy task any more. To begin with, any successor must be someone who will swear personal loyalty to Manoj Das Gupta as against Sri Aurobindo. Some of the names being discussed include Vishweshwar, Chitra Sen and Swadesh Chatterjee who have for long proved their personal loyalties. But the thinking within the Board is to try for a better public profile to soften the widespread criticism. Two names are being discussed openly: Jhumur Bhattacharya who has been one of Manoj Das Gupta’s preferred girl-friends from his young days at theatre, and whom he has been steadily promoting first as a spiritual figurehead and later as head of the Ashram’s college and its alumni journal, and now as keeper of the Mother’s room. But the dark horse is Meera Gupta whom he had earlier assigned as head of the Ashram’s book distribution agency, and who was recently working overtime organising the Ashram-wide signature campaign to garner support to save the Trustees from going to jail.
But therein lies the rub. Although there are enough people waiting to serve the Trustees in their abuse of Sri Aurobindo, none of them is keen to go to jail with them!
Vishweshwar and Chitra Sen are already telling all those who care to ask that they are too old to take up such responsibilities. Swadesh, it is felt, does not bring any value to the Trust Board. Jhumur Bhattacharya is excusing herself saying she already has too many responsibilities. Meera Gupta alone has kept a strategic silence. When asked of her chances of becoming a Trustee, she merely said, “It is for them to decide.” But she did not appear too enthusiastic. After all selling one’s conscience is easier than going to jail for life.
Albert-da may well turn out to be smartest of them all.