Kalmadi, NSF chiefs hit out at Sports Minister

Government`s bid to limit the tenure of sports administrators met with stiff resistance today with IOA President Suresh Kalmadi and other angry bosses of sports bodies vowing to do everything to protect their autonomy.

Updated: May 03, 2010, 21:02 PM IST

New Delhi: Government`s bid to limit the tenure of sports administrators met with stiff resistance today with IOA President Suresh Kalmadi and other angry bosses of sports bodies vowing to do everything to protect their autonomy.

Miffed administrators, many of whom are politicians who have occupied the post for more than a decade, made it clear that they would oppose the directive, setting the stage for a bitter standoff with the Sports Ministry.

"We are surprised by the government order and we would do everything to protect our autonomy," Kalmadi told reporters.

"We have called an IOA Executive Committee meeting on May 18 and may convene a General Assembly meeting as well (to discuss the issue)," Kalmadi said.

Cracking down on the sports administrators who have monopolised most of the NSFs, the Sports Ministry yesterday announced a new regulation which says federation presidents cannot continue more than 12 years, with or without break, while secretaries or treasurers can serve two terms of four years at a stretch and would have to take a four-year gap before they seek a re-election.

The regulation hurts Kalmadi, who has been at IOA`s helm since 1996, while it also seeks to end the reigns of NSF chiefs V K Malhotra (archery), Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (cycling), VK Verma (badminton), captain Satish K Sharma (aero club) and BS Adityan (volleyball), who have been occupying the top posts for more than a decade.

Insisting that the autonomy of the IOA and NSFs are paramount, a defiant Kalmadi said, "Our constitution goes to the International Olympic Council (IOC) and no one can meddle with that. All NSFs also send their constitution to the respective international bodies and no one can interfere there either."
Kalmadi also dismissed Sports Minister MS Gill`s assertion that the guideline would help bring transparency to the functioning of IOA and NSFs.

"As far as transparency is concerned, IOA was brought under RTI (Right To Information) Act by the Ministry and we accepted it with a smile because we have nothing to hide.”

"The Sports Minister himself has given a letter to the court that all the federations have given their accounts properly. So why this about-turn and that too on the eve of the Commonwealth Games?" he asked.
“The Ministry guidelines have been drafted arbitrarily without consultation or discussions with IOA and NSFs. The only thing the Ministry can achieve by implementing the order is to stop IOA and NSFs from getting financial assistance,” Kalmadi said.

IOA Secretary General Randhir Singh said the government regulation has been forwarded to Olympic Council of Asia and International Olympic Council.

“We are expecting a positive reply from them because this government regulation infringes on the working of the national Olympic committee. It is a serious matter,” Singh said.

Rowing Federation of India president KP Singh Deo criticised the timing of the guideline.

“It is rather strange that it came out when the CGF Coordination Commission is here,” he said.

Badminton Association of India President V K Verma said the NSFs get just a small amount of money from the Sports Ministry for their national championships and many events were held even without any grant.

“Sports ministry order would seem to suggest that the federations are on crutches financially. In fact in every national championship the money from the ministry is a small amount. For example, out of 50 lakh incurred in national championship for badminton only one lakh comes from the Ministry,” he said.

Judo Federation of India chief Jagdish Tytler said by issuing the order the Sports Minister has done a bad service to the country.

“Sports Minister has done a bad service to the country. It is completely unacceptable and I think the minister will have to take back the order,” he said.

Hockey India Secretary Narinder Batra said if the Sports Minister wants IOA and NSF members and officials to retire at 70 years of age, he (Gill) should resign first.

“Charity should start from home and the Sports Minister should step down first if he wants to set the retirement age of 70 to us,” he said.

Archery Association of India President V K Malhotra, Indian Weightlifting Federation chief Birendra Prasad Baishya, Cycling Federation India head S S Dhindsa, Wrestling Federation of India President G S Mander, Athletics Federation of India Secretary Lalit Bhanot, All India Tennis Association General Secretary Anil Khanna, Basketball Federation of India Secretary Harish Sharma, Table Tennis Federation of India Secretary Dhanraj Chowdhury and IOA vice-presidents Tarlochan Singh and Bhuvaneshwar Kalita were among more than 20 sports administrators who assembled before the media.

Kalmadi and the other officials did not take any question saying that the CGF CoCom meeting was going on.