A major row erupted today after scam-tainted Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala were elevated to Life Presidents of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). The IOA’s decision came as a surprise and put question marks over the sports ministry. Not only this, the Congress party leaders attacked the government asking as to why Kalmadi was conferred with the post when they had removed him after he got involved in corruption cases. Here are all we know so far about the controversy.
What government said
Facing criticism from all around, the Sports Ministry said it would issue a show cause notice to the IOA for the controversial decision. “This move is against the constitution of IOA and is not acceptable to the Sports Ministry. I am disappointed by the decision because both are facing cases of corruption. We want transparency in sports. Till the time, these two don’t resign or are sacked, we will not deal with the IOA,” Sports Minister Vijay Goel told reporters.
BJP leader Venkaiyah Naidu said, “Whatever happened in IOA was disgraceful. The government of India had no role in that. Congress created Kalmadi and today they are asking us questions on him.”
What Kalmadi said
Amidst controversy, Kalmadi declined the offer. “I thank the Indian Olympic Association for conferring the honour of Life President on me. However, I do not feel that it would be appropriate for me to accept this honour at this time,” Kalmadi said in a letter addressed to IOA President N Ramachandran.
“I am confident that my name will be cleared and I will defer acceptance of the honour till such time,” he added.
What was the controversy all about?
Suresh Kalmadi and another tainted former IOA President Abhay Singh Chautala were elevated to Life Presidents by the IOA at its Annual General Meeting in Chennai on Tuesday. The IOA decision triggered a storm today and the sports ministry issued a show cause notice to the IOA.
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What others said
IOA’s associate vice-president Narinder Batra, who is now the president of International Hockey Federation, also criticised the move and asked the duo to step aside. “I might be quitting the IOA soon because I can’t be associated with something which does not make sense to me in terms of good governance. They should not accept this position till the time their names are cleared,” Batra said.
Former sports minister Ajay Maken too criticised the move, calling it “sad and painful”. “As a former Sports Minister and sports enthusiast, the IOA’s decision to appoint Kalmadi and Chautala as Life Presidents of IOA is sad and very painful. This decision is not good for sports and India’s image,” Maken told reporters.
“I request the Sports Minister not only to convey his reservations but take strong actions to reverse the decision. All the National Sports Federations are funded by the Sports Ministry, so the government should exercise its full powers to reverse the decision. If they do so there is no reason the matter can’t be resolved,” he added.
What Chautala said
Earlier, Chautala had attacked Goel. “I was surprised by the reaction of Sports Minister Vijay Goel. He was claiming that there are criminal and corruption cases against me. The case against me is not a criminal case, it is a political case,” he said.
“Mr Goel has failed in his responsibility as a Sports Minister. I would advise him to fulfil his responsibility as Sports Minister because if he does that, our medal count will increase manifold and he will get credit for that. Instead of getting into a controversy without knowing full facts, he should focus on his job,” he added.
(With inputs from PTI/ANI)