New Delhi: Bitter infighting and reluctance of senior officials to accept the International Olympic Committee’s ruling on “ethics and good governance” could further delay India’s return to the Olympic fold.
The scene ahead of the suspended Indian Olympic Association (IOA)’s crucial extraordinary general meeting, to be held on Sunday doesn’t look too rosy for the sports fraternity.
According to sources, majority of the members could go against the IOC’s suggestion to pass a constitutional amendment that would bar members having criminal charges levied against them from contesting the IOA elections.
“The house is likely to accept all amendments including the controversial age and tenure issue, but any attempt to ban charge-sheeted officials from contesting could land the IOA in trouble,” said a senior official.
“Its against the law of the land and could easily be challenged in court. Nobody should be barred till the time one is proved to be guilty,” he said.
If the amendment is passed, influential officials like Suresh Kalmadi and Lalit Bhanot could be sent packing forever, as they had been charge-sheeted for corruption related to the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Kalmadi and Bhanot still have immense control over the members and can sway the voting.
A source said there is a possibility of the matter being settled by secret ballot, but the Kalmadi-Bhanot camp is firm on defeating the motion.
The group has already told the IOC that the Indian government has asked the Supreme Court to review the ruling that charge-sheeted MPs and MLAs should be immediately disqualified from holding membership of their respective houses. The same decision should be applied at the IOA too, the group claimed.
That, in effect, would mean that the IOC can extend the ban slapped on the IOC in December 2012.
There is also a possibility that IOC might take the drastic step of appointing an ad hoc committee in the IOA.
The union sports ministry has also come out in support of the international body, and wants the amendments to be in place.
IOA’s inability to set its own house in order has complicated the issue. While the faction led by Abhay Chautala has people like Bhanot and Hockey India secretary general Narendra Batra working overtime to garner support, opposing the duo bitterly is Randhir Singh, India’s representative at the international body.
There is a move from some quarters for all the officials to come together and present their grievances to the IOC in an unanimous manner.
Randhir is believed to have been approached by the Chautala camp, but nothing concrete has come out of it.
An extension of the suspension will allow Randhir Singh to continue as IOC member, and become a permanent member once he turns 70.
A series of meetings were held till late in the night but no compromise formula that would please the IOC could be reached.
“We won six medals at the London Olympics, but instead of taking things forward, these officials have reduced the Olympic movement to a farce,” said a wrestling federation official.
“Even the Indian flag is not allowed to be displayed in international meets these days,” he rued.