The controversial Indian Olympic Association elections took a dramatic turn on Sunday with Randhir Singh announcing that he will withdraw his nomination for the post of president.
Randhir will meet Returning Officer Justice VK Bali at 3:00 pm on the day to withdraw his nomination, adding a new twist to the December 5 polls which have seen a bitter campaign between the rival factions of owing allegiance to Randhir and Abhay Singh Chautala.
Randhir told PTI that he has been "pained" by the "slanderous campaign" that has been carried out against him and said that has prompted him to pull out of the elections. "There has been a slanderous and malicious campaign against me by some people in the IOA. I will expose them but I do not want to stoop to that level," Randhir told PTI.
He said his rivals have been raising the issue that an IOC member cannot contest the elections, but there are no provisions in the IOA Constitution which bar an IOC member from contesting. "They have been raising such issues just to prevent me from contesting. I am a former shooter who has represented the country and I am not a person who hankers for positions. I have been in sports administration for long and there allegation that I am hankering for this position will be proved wrong," he said.
"In India, there are lot of people who can take up such positions and can do a good job as well ," he added.
Randhir also claimed that he has the numbers to win the elections if he had contested, but insisted that the kind of atmosphere that has been created and the level of personal allegations has forced him to withdraw.
Randhir said the elections which will be held as per the government sports code will make it difficult for him since he has represented the IOC in India and stands for the Olympic Charter. Randhir's withdrawal comes barely a few days before the December 5 elections, which have been mired in controversy over which of the two — the government's Sports Code or the Olympic Charter — should be followed.
The IOC has made it clear that the IOA would be suspended if elections are held as per the government guidelines, which put a cap on the age and tenure of office-bearers. The body has given IOA time till November 30 to clarify its stand on the issue.
After receiving the IOC's communique, IOA acting president VK Malhotra has sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention to resolve the matter. "Given the gravity of situation, as the fate of thousands of Indian sportspersons is linked with it, I sincerely appeal to you to immediately ask the Sports Ministry to withdraw this Sports Code," Malhotra had written in the letter to the Prime Minister.
But the returning officer has insisted that elections will be held under the government guidelines as per the Delhi High Court ruling. The elections were earlier postponed following the resignation of SY Quraishi as chairman of the IOA election committee. The poll process got back on track with the appointment of Justice Anil Dev Singh.