Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) legal adviser Dinesh Rambally is confident that Vijay Maharaj—the son and successor of Sat Maharaj, has what it takes to propel the religious organisation forward and over time, SDMS followers will grow to love him.
But, Dr Kumar Mahabir who wrote Maharaj’s biography, feels that the younger Maharaj has big shoes to fill if he wants to walk in his father’s footsteps.
Following the passing of Maharaj on Saturday, Vijay, 65, assumed the leadership role of the SDMS.
At an SDMS meeting last September, Vijay Maharaj was named as the SDMS first vice secretary.
In the absence of the elder Maharaj, the SDMS’ constitution states that the first assistant secretary will step up to the plate.
Next September, the group will meet again and either the younger Maharaj would be confirmed in his father’s place or be replaced by a vote.
Rambally said the elder Maharaj led the SDMS with his own style, dismissing reports by detractors that he was a racist.
“I don’t think he was racist ...and I don’t think anybody in the family or Maha Sabha has an iota of that kind of divisive nature in them,” Rambally said.
Vijay is the eldest and first son of Maharaj.
Rambally said Vijay has been officially and unofficially involved in the SDMS’ business for over 40 years.
“So he knows the style of his father. He has been training under his father. I have all confidence that he can lead. Sat also had full faith in his son.”
“I will tell you Mr Vijay Maharaj will surprise a lot of people. I think the Hindu population is behind him. Those who may not know him as well as others...you would be surprised how they would really come to love him.”
Giving his personal views, Rambally does not doubt that Vijay will rise to the occasion and develop his own leadership style, ideals and personality.
“Time will tell but he is certainly up to it (challenge.)”
Having trained under his father, Rambally said Vijay was “Sat’s hands and legs.”
Rambally said Vijay would focus on the views of those around him.
He described the younger Maharaj as a “fair person” who has single-handedly managed big events and religious functions at the SDMS with the blessing of his father.
Questioned if SDMS followers will transfer their loyalty from father to son, Rambally could not say.
“What I expect is that there will be a period where people would want to see Vijay’s style. I think given a few months...if that much... people who don’t know are going to experience who is Vijay.”
Mahabir, however, said the country would have to see the performance of Vijay before assessing him.
“It is too early to make any judgement. We should give him a fair chance. Only time will tell.”
Mahabir said Maharaj struggled to build his empire.
“Sat could have squandered the legacy of Bhadase Sagan Maraj. But he did not.”
The establishment of Radio and TV Jaagriti, Mahabir said, was one of Maharaj’s dreams.
Another, Mahabir said was to build a Hindu home for the aged.
“I hope Vijay would fulfil the dreams of his father. He has big shoes to fill,” Mahabir said.
Head of SWAHA Paramacharya Pundit Hardeo Persad said to take over the mantle of the SDMS, Vijay would have been groomed in a certain way.
“I am sure there would be support systems to take the organisation forward.”
Persad said Vijay “cannot be Sat. He would not be Sat. He has to create his own style of leadership. Time will tell.”
Persad said the Hindu community needs good leadership.
See pages A20, A21 & A22