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regular-article-logo Saturday, 25 May 2024

Bhaichung Bhutia comes in to queer Kalyan Chaubey pitch

Both former footballers filed nominations for the president’s post on Thursday

Angshuman Roy Calcutta Published 26.08.22, 03:34 AM
Bhaichung Bhutia

Bhaichung Bhutia File Photo

Bhaichung Bhutia threw his hat into the All India Football Federation (AIFF) election ring once again to give Kalyan Chaubey, seen as the BJP candidate, some sleepless nights. Both the former footballers filed the nominations for the president’s post on Thursday.

The election is slated for September 2. Bhutia’s candidature is backed by Andhra (proposer) and Rajasthan (seconder), while Gujarat and Arunachal Pradesh signed for the Bengal BJP leader. Most of the members at this point in time support Chaubey but given Bhutia’s stature, it remains to be seen how things pan out in the next few days.

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Members’ choice NA Haris, Congress MLA and chief of the Karnataka State Football Association, has filed his nomination for the lone vicepresident’s seat, while Kipa Ajay of Arunachal Pradesh will have a contest with Gopalakrishna Kosaraju (Andhra) for the treasurer’s post. Thirteen have filed for the executive committee posts. The last date for filing nominations is Saturday.

While Bhutia’s candidature is being seen as a fight against the present dispensation, the man himself refused to buy that. “I am on good terms with every political party. Indian football needs drastic reforms and I am the best person for that job. Right now our football needs long-term planning,” the former India captain told The Telegraph. Congressman and chief of the Rajasthan Football Association Manvendra Singh echoed the former India captain’s view.

“It cannot be a BJP versus Congress fight since Chaubey and Haris are on the same side. Our fight is the way Chaubey is being rammed down the members’ throats. If there is a contest between two former players, then why not go with the best?” Singh, who was a vice-president during former AIFF president Praful Patel’s reign, said.

Bhutia’s decision has somewhat thrown the members on the wrong foot. Till Thursday morning, they were confident of a unanimous decision. “To some extent yes. But he doesn’t have a chance,” a member said. Chaubey though said: “We were expecting that.” Talking about his plans the former goalkeeper said: “I have the experience and knowledge to take football forward.”

Chaubey was accepted as the president by the members in a meeting in the capital that went till the early hours of Thursday. Interestingly, Manvendra Singh had walked out in protest when Chaubey started to speak. Whoever wins, a former player will be at the helm of the AIFF after politicians, Priya Ranjan Das Munshi and Patel, ruled for 34 years.

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