New Delhi: Mohammed Azharuddin’s last-minute backing out rendered Sunday’s Badminton Association of India elections in Chennai a one-horse race and the former cricketer said he decided to skip it after failing to get a stay order on the contest.
The cricketer-turned-politician created a stir with his announcement to contest BAI elections but it turned out to be a damp squib as he left the ring allowing long-standing President VK Verma, who has been at the federation’s helm for 12 years, another term.
“I decided against contesting after we did not get the stay order,” Azhar told reporters from Hyderabad.
“I wanted to fight but it was going to be difficult after that,” he said after Verma was elected unopposed in Chennai.
Even though he was reluctant to elaborate, one of his associates said they needed more time to prepare.
“You cannot overnight overthrow someone like Verma, who has been here for such a long time. We needed some more time to prepare and hence sought a stay order. Azhar Bhai also had to go to Europe as part of a delegation and even though he returned midway, we did not have enough time,” he said.
Azhar, meanwhile, insisted Verma’s re-election was illegal since it violated the recent Sports Ministry guidelines that fix a federation president’s term to a maximum of 12 years.
“I was not there but I’m, told the election was conducted in a manner which was not free and fair. It was stage-managed and Verma won in complete violation of the Sports Ministry guideline,” Azhar said.
Asked what would be his course of action now, Azhar said, “I will talk to people and see what can be done. We will wait and see.”
Azhar also doubted Verma’s claim of being unanimously elected in Chennai.
“I did not keep a tab but I’m told it was neither free nor fair. I’m not convinced about this claim of unanimous election either.
“They elected three secretaries which baffles me. I don’t know how can they explain that. You generally have a one secretary and two joint secretaries. He in fact had the coach (P Gopichand) in the AGM as well, now that is strange,” Azhar said.
“See, I have nothing personal against anyone. I just wanted to bring more professionalism and accountability in the running of the game and the federation. I’ll talk to people now and then decide what to do,” he added.