Vijay Kumar Malhotra’s long reign as the president of the Archery Association of India will continue as the veteran administrator was, on Friday, re-elected to the post after comprehensively beating his rival BVP Rao, a result which means he will retain the position for an unprecendented 40th year.

Malhotra defeated Rao by a margin of 72-20 in the elections which took place here after three postponements, demonstrating the acting IOA president’s stranglehold in the archery association since he first took up the post in 1973.

This is, however, for the first time that Malhotra had to contest an election, having being elected unopposed in earlier terms.

The electoral college, which has been declared by Returning Officer Justice (Retd) J.D.Kapoor under Delhi High Court orders, had 102 members with each state unit getting three votes and each organisation/sports boards one vote.

Tarlochan Singh was elected as senior vice-president defeating GA Ibposhak, while Virendra Sachdeva defeated Sradhanand Das for the post of treasurer.

Earlier, Anil Kaminenio (secretary general) and seven joint secretaries belonging to Malhotra’s panel were elected unopposed.

The eight vice-presidents elected are Kailash Murarka, Kiren Rijiju, Sanjiv Paul, Anantharaju, Kulbir Singh Kang, MW Nongbri, Ajay Gupta and ML Jadam.

Malhotra was elated with the “overwhelming” verdict in his favour.

“I am humbled by this overwhelming mandate. I have always worked for the improvement and development of archery. I am happy that our archers are now competing at the international level on equal terms with foreign archers,” he said.

“AAI remains my united family. There is no question of animosity. But we will have to work together to take this sport to bigger heights and I seek co-operation from all irrespective of their affiliation,” Malhotra added.

Malhotra said he was happy with his entire panel and added that AAI will not have any confrontation with the government.

Rao, a former IAS and UN official and now Clean Sports India convener, might have lost the contest but he said he was happy to have atleast made the veteran sports administrator fight for the position.

“I may have lost but I consider it as a major victory for me and Clean Sports India because for the first time free and fair elections of AAI were held after 40 years,” he said.

“I would like to thank lawyer Rahul Mehra and the Delhi High Court to ensure that Malhotra conduct the polls though reluctantly.”

He congratulated Malhotra but said the octogenarian’s re-election to the post is a violation of the guidelines laid by the government.

“I congratulate Malhotra but I really think he has taken archery to a dangerous path in his 40 years of rule. I am worried about our archers and sincerely hope that they don’t suffer,” Rao said.

“By violating government guidelines I think public support towards archery will stop and the game will suffer.

“I hope the government takes a note of it. If the government doesn’t de-recognise the newly-formed AAI, CSI will be compelled to go against the government,” he warned.

“Till Ajay Maken was there as Sports Minister government was serious on this issue. And now I sincerely hope the new Sports Minister is more serious than Maken,” Rao added.

The AAI election has been mired in controversy as it was postponed thrice after the Delhi High Court directed the returning officer to declare the electoral college amid allegations of manipulation against Malhotra.

The electoral college now includes three North Eastern states - Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Tripura - who were not given voting rights by AAI earlier.

A case is still pending in the Delhi High Court on a petition by lawyer Rahul Mehra, praying the court to direct the AAI to conduct the polls under the National Sports Development Code, which has age and tenure restriction provisions.

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