Mohammad Azharuddin has jumped into the fray for the post of president in the Badminton Association of India (BAI) elections to be held in Chennai on June 13.
The former cricketer-turned Member of Parliament from Congress addressed a press conference here on Saturday announcing his candidature against the present incumbent Mr. V. K. Verma, who has been holding the post for the last 12 years.
Azharuddin promised to take the sport to the next level by bringing in more sponsorship into the game and said his “love for the sport” had made him contest the elections for the highest post. “Unless you are the president, you cannot do much to help any sport. Since cricket is managed well, I thought of contributing my bit to help India become one among the top three countries in the world. I was really pained to see the state of the hockey players ahead of the World Cup this year.”
When asked about Azharuddin’s eligibility to contest the elections, his legal advisor Aruneshwar Gupta said the BAI constitution allowed anyone to contest for the posts of President and Secretary without being a member of any state association.
However, when contacted, Mr. Verma stated that a candidate’s name had to be proposed and seconded by member units. “So far, 11 units of the BAI have written to me to put to vote on June 13, the eligibility of Azaharuddin to contest the elections. Since Azharuddin has been serving a life ban imposed by the BCCI, our position on the question of moral turpitude is the same as that of the cricket board, viz a viz the Union Sports Ministry.
“If the house votes in favour of Azharuddin contesting the elections, he still cannot attend the meeting since only delegates, authorised by member units can attend.
“In the past couple of days, several state association office bearers have informed me that pressure from the Union Government had been exerted on them to back Azharuddin’s candidature. Many Government Boards (like Railways, Air India, Petroleum etc) are being summoned to propose/second Azharuddin’s name in the meeting. In a fair and transparent election, without government pressure, I am confident of winning,” said Mr. Verma.
Azharuddin, who addressed the conference without a single representative from any of the BAI affiliated units exuded confidence saying, “just wait and see. A lot is going to happen this week.”