November 26, 2019
Contestants of the Mrs India Universe beauty pageant have claimed that crowns came for a price. The organiser says it is the voice of the unsuccessful contestants. Editor Vidyashree Dharmaraj writes.
Beauty pageants attract controversies as much as glamour and headlines. It’s serious business in India, where mini pageants surface under multiple titles, themes and lofty ideals.
Recently, Mrs India Universe pageant, the grand finale of which was held in Mauritius, kicked up a storm when the contestants alleged that the organisers had accepted huge sums of money in return for the crown.
While some called the entire pageant a farce as the organisers had fixed the crowns for a “price”, some allege that girls who had paid were denied the crown because they were asked to pay more.
Videos purportedly shot in the hotel rooms, which have been going viral on social media, show contestants shouting at organisers questioning the malpractice they have indulged in – accepting Rs. 7 lakh from each of them for the 10 crowns that were accorded.
A letter written by a contestant alleging that the organisers demanded payment for titles
An Orissa-based newspaper had reported that an FIR has been filed against the organisers by the contestants for alleged malpractice.
The newspaper identified the event managers as Archana Tomer and Tusshar Daliwal. One of the contestants is quoted saying that they had contacted the police and the Indian Embassy at Mauritius and the pageant has been dissolved.
However, Archana Tomer in a telephone conversation with The Covai Post denied the claims of the contestants. “The contestants are trying to malign the organisation. They think they are the best, and when they didn’t win the crown they got angry and started throwing slanderous claims at us.”
“If they had a genuine problem, then why didn’t they complain in the run-up to the pageant? They were getting good food, good accommodation and good attention, so they had no problem with us.”
When the result was not in their favour, they started raising a hue and cry and running a smearing campaign against us, she said.
In the meanwhile, a video of protest is also going viral where the event manager is seen saying that the pageant is dissolved and he will return the money. When The Covai Post contacted several contestants they conceded that there was exchange of money and the entire event was a hoax.
A complaint letter forwarded to the Indian High Commission at Mauritius.
But Archana said that there was no dissolving of the pageant, and that it was conducted in the presence of the President of Mauritius.
A contestant had also in a letter stated that she was asked to pay Rs 5.64 lakh for Mrs India Universe Globe tittle and she had paid Rs 3.64 lakh and a post-dated cheque of Rs 1.95 lakh to the event manager. She alleged that though they took the money they had not given her the title. The event manager she says, however, handed over a post-dated cheque of Rs 3.64 lakh signed by someone else in front of the Mauritius cops, when the contestants started alleging foul play and kicked up a row.
In the meanwhile, Sonali Pradeep, the Mrs India Universe title winner who is from Coimbatore, told The Covai Post that she won the title by sheer hard work and dedication, though she agrees that if the event managers had taken money then it is wrong.
The contestants criticised some of those who had “won” the crowns and are publicising their “achievements” on social media platforms despite being part of the controversial pageant.