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ISKCON battle: Bangalore v/s Mumbai matter of trust

By: Sheetal Sukhija and Imran Gowhar

from: http://www.mid-day.com

Officials of the Bangalore ISKCON Temple claim that their image is being maligned by their counterparts in Mumbai, while the latter calls it a piece of fiction

Developments over the past week have led to skeletons tumbling out of closets in the grand ISKCON battle. While initially it appeared like power broker Balaji Subhash had conducted the sting operation exposing ISKCON Bangalore, the latter now alleges that their decade-old enemy -- the Mumbai ISKCON -- is the original mastermind behind the entire operation.

Intent unclear? A power broker had conducted a sting operation where
he trapped the deputy temple commander at the Bangalore ISKCON
accepting corporate donations under CSR scheme and offering
kickbacks on the same. Representation Pic

Bangalore ISKCON claims that their image is being maligned by their counterparts in Mumbai and has produced a recording of a telephone conversation, allegedly between President of ISKCON Mumbai Varada Krishna Dasa and Subhash. (See box for transcripts of the conversation.)

"The audio tapes reveal that Dasa is trying to malign our image by egging Subhash to release the tapes to the media and hold a press conference," said the communication manager of Bangalore ISKCON. They have also produced a copy of the email that was sent to their personal email ID from the power broker's account, a copy of which has also been handed to the CID. (See box for excerpts of the e-mail)

Fire starter?
Subhash, a controversial power broker, conducted a sting operation, where he trapped Acharya Ratna Das, deputy temple commander at the Bangalore ISKCON, accepting corporate donations under CSR scheme and offering 20-30 per cent kickback on the same.

He handed over the video clips to MiD DAY after he was released on bail by  Subramanyapura police. Sunhash was held on charges of blackmail and criminal intimidation. ISKCON filed a case against Subhash sensing something fishy as the cheque he gave them bounced. Meanwhile, the taped canversation clearly indicates Subhash is lobbying and a deal was being struck. (See box for   transcripts of conversation.)

About who was backing his expose, Subhash said, "If two people want to be friends, then they should have a common enemy. This was my game plan. The Mumbai ISKCON has not paid me, nor has any political party."
Later however, Subhash accepted that he had deleted the email account, from which the mail was sent and agreed that he had been cashing in on the enmity between the Mumbai and Bangalore ISKCON.

Krishna Dasa on the other hand maintained that the Mumbai ISKCON has nothing to do with Subhash. "This is a fantastic piece of fiction and Bangalore ISKCON would have to produce a little more evidence to back their claims. Besides, just because the reality has been revealed to the world, they are using this line of defense. We have never hired any sting operator, even though many people have approached us in the past with exposes related to Madhu Pandit Dasa," said Krishna Dasa.

Meanwhile, a very strong political backing has emerged in the tale. Subhash, who claimed to be a huge 'fan' and follower of Senior Congress leader D K Shiv Kumar, has denied any link with him in this operation.
"Bangalore ISKCON has criticised Shiv Kumar and he does not deserve this. This motivated me to conduct the sting operation," said Subhash. The misappropriation and economic offences wing of the CID is now investigating.

Read between the lines?
Providing the recorded audio proof to MiD DAY, the Bangalore ISKCON alleged that the following conversation occurred between President of ISKCON Mumbai Varada Krishna Dasa (VKD) and Balaji Subhash (BS).

VKD: Please understand that I am actually your well-wisher. I would like you to be happy all your life.
BS: Correct. 
VKD: Balaji, Let me tell you, if you really want to make money, you take my advice, I'll tell you how to make. It is ok, Krishna will help you as per your desire. I will not even grudge, I will not even abuse. Otherwise you cannot call me sadhu. All I am saying is that if you are in this for money, then learn how to make it nicely.
BS: Then no need of giving the copy also?
VKD: No. I don't want. If you give me a copy, then what is your value? Just show it one time, that is all. They want me to go with them, one meeting in Bangalore, one meeting in Delhi. And in Delhi, they are ready to give me Rs 25 lakh.

Conversation between Bangalore ISKCON official (BI) and Balaji Subhash (BS)
BS: Once I show them the video, they will have an arrangement where the video will be downloaded in real time.
BI: Yes.
BS: Which I would not get to know.
BI: Yes.
BS: Ok once the video is shown to 2-3 members, they may pay me 25 lakhs and I can get out of there.
BI: Yes.

'If you go to the police, the war is on'
Extract from the e-mail that Balaji Subhash had sent to Madhu Pandit Dasa on April 11 I can go on putting several such edited and morphed videos anonymously on the Internet. I can continuously create new material to defame you. You are in a more dangerous situation than me, as you are a big man.

If you go to the police, the war is on for next few years and I will join the ISKCON Mumbai in full swing. I have told Kodandarama that I am capable of going on a rampage for ISKCON Mumbai. Please don't underestimate my capacity to destroy you. You can enquire with Registrar General of High Court whether they have received a DVD sent to them offering hot clips of ISKCON Bangalore a few days back.

If I destroy your reputation by spreading made up stuff about you on the Internet, which you know I am capable of, you will have to resign from chairmanship of Akshaya Patra and ISKCON as wanted so much by ISKCON Mumbai.

Don't think that I have not made back up of you voice recordings when you spoke to me last month. Do you want me to send some audio clips to your reception to prove that?

Prabhu, don't play with me; it is like playing with fire. I am a small man and what I have to lose is nothing when compared to your loss. I hope you will not be foolish. Let us settle. I have big contacts with the police. You may have already sampled my friend PI Subramanya, he is like god to me.

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