Neeraj Kumar Mishra (43) may be a master in checkmating rivals, but the state’s lone International Master (IM) has not mastered the art of balancing equations within the All Jharkhand Chess Association.
The result is that Mishra, despite being the outfit’s secretary, is almost a pariah. He is rarely consulted on key administrative decisions, not told about meetings or governance matters. Even the outfit office has shifted from his home to JRD Tata Sports Complex, Jamshedpur.
The ignominy forced Mishra to look outside Jharkhand — tutoring budding players across India, mentoring at Grandmaster Dibyendu Barua’s academy in Calcutta — but the frustration is evident. “I’m reduced to a persona non grata in my own state. But for the All India Chess Federation, I would have quit as the state body secretary,” Mishra told The Telegraph.
Blaming senior state functionaries for doing little for chess, Mishra, who shot into prominence by finishing behind Grandmaster Vishwanathan Anand at Asian Junior Championship, Hong Kong, in 1985, said he had resigned as technical director and life member of East Singhbhum District Chess Association in December 2011.
“Can you believe it was accepted in July? Nobody cared to contact me about my decision. This is sheer insult,” he rued.
Sources said the problem started when Mishra nominated Bengal-based Dibyendu Barua’s name as a vice-president of All India Chess Federation (AICF) from Jharkhand. “This angered chess functionaries who claimed Mishra never consulted them,” an insider revealed.
Senior state chess functionaries also blame Mishra for hosting national chess championships under the Jamshedpur Chess Academy banner without consulting them. He only promotes the chess academy, they alleged.
“Mishra doesn’t do anything as state chess secretary. He is only interested in promoting the chess academy. Tell me, how many meetings has he convened as secretary?” joint secretary Jayant Bhuyan asked, adding that the state body had not submitted detailed accounts of the two national championships to district association.
The fallout is that Mishra, a former joint secretary of the AICF, who played a lead role in hosting national Under-7 and Under-11 championships in Jamshedpur in 2010 and 2012, is sidelined.
The two nationals, hosted by the chess academy under the banner of the state body, apparently helped the cradle financially, which irked the district and state outfits.
Mishra’s supporters feel otherwise. “Did Mishra do anything wrong by helping the chess cradle earn some money? What has the district body done for chess? It has not bid for national championships since 2001. The state outfit has done precious little,” said a veteran.
The state outfit even appointed B.T. Rao as a working secretary this January. Rao, who alleged that the post of the secretary was rendered ornamental, minced no words when speaking about Mishra.
“He (Mishra) has no time. We are asking him to quit. But though he is physically out of scene, his supporters play games.”
In any case, Mishra’s term ends in 2013. Till, then he will remain secretary.
He can’t resign now as Chess Association of India (CAI), a parallel national chess outfit, had lodged a case against him and the AICF in 2011. Mishra had courted the CAI’s wrath by telling mediapersons that the CAI national chess tournament in 2011 was “not recognised”. “Because of legal wrangling, the AICF thinks a new secretary in Jharkhand won’t be good idea,” Mishra said.
Is state chess the real casualty in the ongoing war?