IOA presidential candidate Abhay Singh Chautala tells Chander Shekhar Luthra that he sees nothing wrong in Lalit Bhanot’s decision to contest in the upcoming elections; says he will ensure rival Randhir Singh does not represent India at the IOC
You have been embroiled in a battle with Randhir Singh. Don’t you think this will harm Indian sport?
On the contrary, it will help clean up Indian sport. Randhir is indulging in dirty politics by trying to create an impression that the IOC can take action against the IOA if certain things -- which can help him in elections -- are not followed. Let the elections be over, I will ensure that Randhir will no more be Indian representative at the IOC. I have the support of more than 80 per cent sports federations. History will be created in the elections.
Sports ministry says the IOA must follow the sports code?
Sports code is not a law right, so how can it be binding? I will try and convince the ministry that if it wants the code to be followed then it should first be passed by the Cabinet. The ministry knows very well that sports is a state subject and it would be impossible to get it passed.
You have been tipped as Suresh Kalmadi’s candidate and, Lalit Bhanot’s presence in your group reinforces that impression.
I have no objection to Bhanot’s name as he was the man behind India’s successful hosting of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Besides, he has yet not been pronounced guilty by any court of law. His contribution to Indian sport is immense and unmatched. And what is the problem if federation officials, who were earlier with Kalmadi and have vast experience of running different sports, are now backing me. This false propaganda is also being circulated by Randhir’s group which is completely marginalised in the run-up to the elections.
What will be your top priority for Indian sport if you are elected as the IOA president?
I just have one agenda: to see India’s medals tally is higher than London count. And that can be possible if we have clear vision and better preparations.
But is it possible without the help of sports ministry, which has objections to your candidature?
There is no doubt that sports ministry’s help is essential. But its objections are baseless. I will give them a suitable reply once the elections are over. Look at the boxing model where we were successful in roping in corporate sector and generated money for the players. This model can be applied in other sports too. I will try and bring in more private sector help into the Olympic sport, so that our dependence on government funds is reduced.
But you must admit that you became IABF chairman by amending its constitution?
On the basis of three complaints being made, sports ministry cannot question the IABF elections. I requested the ministry to send an observer to the election, but it failed. We conducted our elections under the supervision of a retired judge and an IOA observer. Boxing has given two Olympic medals to this country and if ministry tries to play politics by stopping our grants then all boxers and their fans will seek answers. However, I hope this situation will not arise.