Attorney Gerald Ramdeen speaking during a press conference at the Devi Mandir Vyas Complex, Caroni Savannah Road, Chaguanas, on Saturday. Looking on is Pundit Bhadase Seetahal-Maharaj.

Almost two years after the death of the Secretary-General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) Satnarayan Maharaj, a legal battle is brewing over who will lead the Hindu organisation.

Pundit Bhadase Seetahal-Maharaj said that on October 1 two pre-action protocol letters were sent to Secretary-General of the SDMS Vijay Maharaj, who is also the son of Satnarayan Maharaj, as well as President-General of the SDMS Pundit Krishna Rambally.

He said that there was no more democracy in the SDMS as Maharaj and Rambally are in leadership positions against the will of the members of the organisation.

“After the death of Satnarayan Maharaj democracy was banished. There was a crude kidnapping of the leadership’s position. It took the ability of a group of the most senior pundits who have all made very distinguished contributions to say we will not accept that. Nobody elected Vijay Maharaj and Krishna Rambally,” he said.

Seetahal-Maharaj spoke on Saturday at a press conference which was held to announce the commencement of legal proceedings aimed at challenging the failure of the current executive and leadership of the SDMS to hold elections as mandated by the Constitution of the SDMS.

He said the timelines for the election of senior leadership positions in the SDMS have come and gone and yet Maharaj and Rambally have not allowed free elections.

Gerald Ramdeen, attorney for Seetahal-Maharaj, said in the pre-action protocol letters he outlined the Constitution of the SDMS and called on Maharaj and Rambally to “do the right thing” and call elections.

He said Maharaj and Rambally have been given 14 days to give a date for elections. If after the 14 days no date is given then it goes to court and the court will be asked to intervene and give directions for the date of elections.

Ramdeen said the SDMS was in control of over 40 primary schools and five secondary schools and this reflects how influential the body is.

“The late Sat Maharaj seemed to have planned very carefully how succession would take place in the SDMS but it was not in accordance with the Constitution. That is the problem we face now. However, the Constitution provides a certain way in which power is to be transferred. In Sat Maharaj’s case there was no provision as to who was to take and carry out the functions and duties of the Secretary-General but the Constitution provides that the position ought to have been filled in the September conference after his death.”

Given the COVID-19 pandemic and its related problems, Ramdeen said that the SDMS needs to have legitimate leaders to tackle these pressing problems.