Vidya Stokes and Narinder Batra were elected President and Secretary-General of Hockey India (HI) at its maiden elections here on Thursday. The results would assume official status only after August 19 when the case comes up in the Supreme Court for final disposal.
In the poll, put off on four occasions earlier, Stokes defeated former India captain Pargat Singh by a 41-21 margin while Batra beat Gunjam Haider of Hockey Arunachal. According to sources, 62 of the 66 voters were present.
On Nambiar's election
On the election of Ramesh Nambiar as one of the joint secretaries, Batra said his nomination had come from the Air India Sports Board, which was a government body. Nambiar has been charge-sheeted by the CBI in a multi-crore Ordnance Factory Board scam. However later in the evening, Batra dismissed reports of Nambiar having resigned. “There is no question of anyone resigning or the resignation being accepted because the matter is subjudice.”
The elections were held in the shadow of a show cause notice by the Union Sports Ministry threatening de-recognition of HI on the issue of age and tenure of its office-bearers. Stokes's nomination had been objected to by the government.
HI had sent its preliminary reply to the notice on Wednesday in defence of its candidate for the post of president.
“It is relevant to note that Hockey India is the only body capable of fielding the Indian hockey team in international events, as the authority to field the Indian hockey team comes from the recognition of the international autonomous hockey federation, namely FIH. The government does not, and cannot, decide which body will represent the sport internationally but merely grants recognition to the body. Governmental recognition is ministerial and for the purpose of grants and funding,” said the HI reply.
Antonio van Ondarza, FIH Vice-President and observer for the elections, said, “According to the Olympic charter, it is the National Olympic Committee that decides the sole governing body for a sport in the country. I agree with having a fixed tenure.
Age cap to be proposed
“We already have a tenure cap in place in FIH and we will be proposing an age cap during our executive board meeting in November. This is something that every federation has to decide on its own. We have conveyed our concerns to HI, which has to sit with the government and talk it out.”
HI's response to the show cause notice added, “It is necessary for the purposes of international recognition that HI be a “private body”. It is autonomous and independent of the government. Hockey India is an autonomous society and not a creature of statute or any other act of government.”
Batra, however, admitted that the federation needed government support for smooth functioning. “It is not easy to function without any support from the government. The government is very important and we have to work with it. We will try to work out an amicable solution because that seems the only way ahead.”
On the contentious issue of age limit on office-bearers, Batra said, “Personally, I accept all the government guidelines and am in favour of every limit, whether on age or tenure.
But let me tell you, as the Secretary-General of HI I have to follow the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) guidelines and have to abide by the HI Executive Board's decisions.”
Taking the defeat in his stride, Pargat said, “I accept the verdict but will continue my fight against the system. My aim will always be to serve the game and improve the standard starting from the grassroot level. Some of the officials (in HI) don't work for the good of the game. My fight will go on.”
The elected members: Vidya Stokes (President), Narinder Batra (Secretary-General), Mohd. Mushtaque Ahmad (Treasurer), T.P. Sinha (Sr. Vice-President), I.D. Nanavati, Pratap Satpathy, Mariamma Koshy and Rekha Bhide (Vice-Presidents), Shobha Singh, Sudarshan Pathak, Ramesh Nambiar and Tapan Das (Joint Secretaries), Anandeshwar Pandey, Firoz Ansari, Mohinder Kaur, Pushpa Srivastava and V.A. Shiyad (Executive board members).