Kalmadi ally set to stand for Presidency of Indian Olympic Association
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
September 26 - Abhay Singh Chautala is to stand against Randhir Singh to become the new President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), he has announced.
Chautala is a close ally of Suresh Kalmadi, who had held the post since 1996 but was replaced on a temporary basis by Vijay Kumar Malhotra after he was arrested in April 2011 on corruption charges linked to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and kept in prison for 10 months until he was released on bail.
Last week the Delhi High Court had ruled that Kalmadi would not be able to stand for the Presidency of the IOA for a fifth term because, under controversial new rules introduced by the Indian Government, officials at the country's national governing sports bodies are not allowed to serve more than three four-year terms in the same post.
But Kalmadi, one of India's most controversial political figures, appears to be trying to retain control of the IOA by placing close colleagues into positions of influence.
Lalit Bhanot, the former general secretary of the Organising Committee of Delhi 2010, who was arrested along with Kalmadi after being accused of corruption during the build-up to the Games, is expected to stand for the secretary general's position that is being vacated by Singh.
"If IOA members have faith in me and asked me to run for the President's post, how can I say no," said Chautala, who earlier this week was elected as the first chairman of the Indian Boxing Federation having served three terms as President.
But it remains unclear whether the IOA will bow to pressure from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and allow them to send an observer to oversee the election.
According to the IOC, such supervision is necessary owing to the "confusion surrounding the status of Suresh Kalmadi".
The IOA, founded in 1927, believe they are being unfairly targeted.
"We have already written to the IOC why we were being singled out for sending election observer," said Malhotra.
"These observers are not sent to other countries.
"We have written to IOC on this issue [Kalmadi].
"We have made our stand clear.
"Kalmadi himself has said that he would not be involved in the day-to-day affair of the IOA in foreseeable future.
"I don't know why this Kalmadi issue suddenly came up."
But it appears liikely the IOA will cave into the IOC and allow an observer.
"We cannot be in conflict with the IOC," said Malhotra.
"We want a perfect relation with the IOC and we appreciate the concerns raised by them.
"Our endeavour is to take Olympic sports forward in the country with the help of the IOC."
September 2012: Indian Olympic Association set date for elections but could still face problems with IOC
August 2012: Singh set to put himself forward to be new President of Indian Olympic Association