Vidya Stokes resigns as Hockey India President
New Delhi:Barely three months after she defied the government`s age limit guidelines to be elected President of Hockey India, Vidya Stokes on Wednesday created a flutter by resigning from the post with immediate effect.
The 83-year-old Stokes` resignation was announced through a statement by Hockey India which claimed that the decision was in accordance with her committment made to the Sports Minister to step down after the Commonwealth Games.
Stokes, however, gave a different reason when contacted by PTI, saying she was busy with her political career and could not spare enough time for hockey.
"I have to travel a lot because of my political career and I cannot find the time. That is why I have decided to step down", Stokes said.
But the Hockey India statement said she had apprised the Sports Minister of her intentions to quit as early as February when she was serving as the interim president.
"This is as per her commitment made to the Union Sports Minister at the inauguration of the High Altitude Synthetic Pitch at Shilaroo, Himachal Pradesh, in February this year,"
the statement said.
"Stokes had said then that she would step down as President only after the Commonwealth Games as India was the host for these prestigious Games," the statement said.
Surprisingly, Stokes` promise to Sports Minister M S Gill to quit as early as February was never made public even during the time of the election.
Stokes` surprise resignation has now paved the way for a younger administrator to take over charge and is being widely interpreted as a move to appease the Sports Ministry, which had de-recognised HI for flouting its age guidelines.
She has tendered her resignation to the Secretary General Narinder Batra and given him the additional charge to discharge all duties as President as an interim measure till
necessary arrangements are made by the Hockey India Executive Board and ratified by the General Council.
Stokes won an acrimonious election earlier in August this year after beating former Olympian Pargat Singh by a 41-21 margin.
The sports ministry had issued show-cause notices to both Hockey India (HI) and the KPS Gill-led Indian Hockey federation (IHF), asking the two bodies to clarify as to how
they proposed meet the guidelines of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and the government.
In its show-cause notice to HI, the ministry asked it to explain before election as to why the government should not de-recognise it in the wake of the federation`s declaration
before Delhi High Court that it is a private body.
While in another notice to IHF, the ministry gave the KPS Gill-led body 14 days time to explain as to how it proposes to meet the FIH as well as government`s guidelines if it wished to run the sport in the country.
But in the August 27 order, the apex court had directed that the teams would be selected and sponsored by HI with the assistance of IOA for the Commonwealth Games while the IHF was kept out of the process.
HI recieved another shot in arm when the Supreme Court permitted it to select and send teams to the Asian Games in the same manner as the body did for the Commonwealth Games after court`s clearance.
Though IHF had conceded the ground for HI temporarily for selection and sponsoring the teams for the CWG and Asiad, it was not ready to yield and wanted it to be decided by the apex court finally.
In a bid to get the matter resolved mutually rather than agitating in the court, the bench suggested that HI, IHF and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) should sit together with the Sports Ministry to resolve the dispute.