Who says Abhay Singh Chautala has lost his stranglehold over Indian Olympic Association (IOA)?
More than 40 IOA members were present at Chautala’s residence here on Monday night, indicating that the stage is again set for this Haryana strongman to dominate the elections slated for February 9.
There was an unanimous consensus amongst everyone present at the meeting including Lalit Bhanot, the suspended IOA secretary, to leave it to Chautala to nominate candidates for the post of president and secretary. This simply means that even though Chautala and Bhanot have been barred because of International Olympic Committee’s diktat to keep tainted officials out, the IOA will still be ruled by this powerful duo in the absence of any other power centre.
This does not speak well for the Indian sports body given that it was on account of scam-tainted sports officials like former chief of Delhi’s 2010 Commonwealth Games, Suresh Kalmadi, the Games’ secretary general Bhanot, director general VK Verma and seven others that the Indian sports body was suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The future of Randhir Singh, the outgoing secretary and IOA’s representative in IOC, too looks bleak as Chautala has ruled out any kind of compromise with him. “Where is the question of any compromise with Randhir or anyone?” asked Chautala while talking to dna on Tuesday. “He is the man who got India suspended from IOC. He has been exposed thoroughly in front of everyone now,” added the suspended IOA president.
After talking to several IOA members who were present inside the meeting, it seems that Birendra Prasad Baishya of Indian Weightlifting Federation (also Asom Gana Parishad’s Member of Parliament) and Squash Federation of India president N Ramachandran are the front runners for the top post. However, Rajiv Mehta’s name, president of the Uttarakhand Olympic Association, has more or less been cleared for the secretary general post.
But Chautala denied any such development during the meeting. “I will not disclose any names till the very last moment,” was his reply to the question of candidates.
Why is Randhir silent?
There is complete silence in the Randhir camp these days. But a close associate of Randhir said that there could be a compromise between the two groups at the last moment to avoid any contest.
It has been learnt that the Randhir group is pushing to accommodate two of their loyalists in the new set up. The two loyalists include his daughter Sunaina Kumari, head of the Bowling Federation of India, and Mukesh Kumar, president of the Judo Federation of India.
Another of his close associate, Raninder Singh, president of National Rifle Association of India, has been rejected outright by the Chautala group because of sharp differences in the past.
It looks certain that the new IOA will hardly be any different from the suspended one. The only difference would be that both Chautala and Bhanot will not be officially heading the sports body while remote-controlling it’s functioning through their hand-picked candidates.