Government’s bid to limit the tenure of sports administrators met with stiff resistance on Monday with Indian Olympics Association (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,” Mr. Kalmadi told reporters here.
“We have called an IOA Executive Committee meeting on May 18 and may convene a General Assembly meeting as well (to discuss the issue),” Mr. 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 Mr. Kalmadi, who has been at IOA’s helm since 1996, while it also seeks to end the reigns of National Sports Federation (NSF) chiefs V.K. Malhotra (archery), Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (cycling), V.K. Verma (badminton), captain Satish K. Sharma (aero club) and B.S. 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 Mr, 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.”
Mr. Kalmadi also dismissed Sports Minister M.S. 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.
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary Randhir Singh said the government regulation has been forwarded to Olympic Council of Asia and IOC.
“We are expecting a positive reply from them because this government regulation infringes on the working of the national Olympic committee,” Mr. Singh said.
Rowing Federation of India president K.P. Singh Deo criticised the timing of the guideline.
“It is rather strange that it came out when the (Commonwealth Games) Coordination Commission is here,” he said.
Archery Association of India President V.K. Malhotra, All India Tennis Association chief Anil Khanna and others were present on the occasion.