New Delhi: The Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) attempt to involve the government in its ongoing dispute with the International Olympic Council (IOC) proved futile on Friday when the sports ministry decided to distance itself from the issue.
Sources said that while the sports minister Jitendra Singh, who met a nine-member IOA delegation, asked the body to accept the sports code and amend its constitution immediately, the ministry was also not too happy with the election of tainted Commonwealth Games official Lalit Bhanot as general secretary.
Bhanot, one of the joint secretaries of the IOA under Suresh Kalmadi, was jailed after the Commonwealth Games on corruption charges and is currently out on bail. On Friday, he was elected to the IOA post after the returning officer for the December 5 elections declared him to be the lone candidate in the fray.
The ministry, according to a member present at the meeting, also told the IOA officials that it was ready to discuss the problems with the IOC only if the initiative came from the international body.
The IOC has threatened to suspend India unless its elections are held as per the Olympic Charter. The elections are now being held under the sports code because of a court directive.
“It is an internal matter between the IOA and IOC… We are ready to help the IOA and sit with the IOC. If the IOC comes here, we will sit down and resolve the issue,” Jitendra Singh said later.
There is, however, every possibility that the possible suspension at the December 4-5 meeting of the IOC may not be the only problem IOA could be facing in the next few weeks.
It could also earn the IOC’s wrath for the election of Bhanot as the secretary general. The ethics commission of the IOC had already suggested that tainted officials like Bhanot, Suresh Kalmadi and VK Verma should not be a part of the Olympic movement.
Abhay Singh Chautala, who, too, was declared the only candidate for the post of president, however, defended Bhanot saying nothing was proved against the secretary general elect.
“Court cases are going against people like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Om Prakash Chautala… Some of them are present and former chief ministers. You can’t call someone guilty unless the charges are proved against him,” was Chautala’s reaction when asked why he had picked Bhanot as his secretary general.
Chautala blamed Randhir Singh for all the problems in the IOA and demanded his resignation from the post of IOC member. “Randhir has been misleading the IOC from the day he realised it was impossible for him to win the election. Otherwise, why is he asking for the elections to be postponed, whose date was finalised by him only,” asked Chautala.