Suresh Kalmadi, the scam-tainted former Indian Olympic Association president, expressed surprise on Wednesday after his nomination as the apex sports body’s life president whipped up a major political storm.
“He has taken the decision to step aside. He had no idea that the IOA was going to do this yesterday and has declined any post till his name is clear(ed),” Suresh Kalmadi’s lawyer Hitesh Jain told a TV channel.
In a letter to the IOA, Kalmadi said he was declining the post of life-president and would “defer acceptance till his name was cleared” of any corruption.
Suresh Kalmadi was forced to quit as Indian Olympic Association president in the wake of the corruption scandal which erupted over the organisation of the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala have been past presidents of the IOA. (PTI)
Abhay Chautala, who too was forced to step down as IOA president, was also nominated as life president at the apex body’s annual general meeting in Chennai.
Goel issues warning
The Union sports minister, Vijay Goel, expressed anger at the nominations and said on Wednesday that the sports body will send a showcause notice to the IOA and cut off ties till it rescinded its decision.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 (not) sacked, we will not deal with the IOA,” Goel told reporters here.
IOA’s associate vice-president Narinder Batra, also the international hockey federation president, criticised the move.
“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, a day after the IOA president, N Ramachandran, said in Chennai that the two were chosen ‘unanimously’.
Chautala attacks Goel
Abhay Chautala held the position from 2012 to 2014 but had to step down as the IOA was suspended by the International Olympic Committee for electing office-bearers facing criminal charges. The national body was reinstated in February, 2004 after constitutional amendments were made barring tainted candidates.
Chautala defended himself and launched an attack on Goel, but Ajay Maken, Sports Minister in the previous Congress-led government, 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.
Maken wants action
“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,” Maken added.
Chautala, however, said: “I was surprised by the reaction of Goel. He was claiming there are criminal and corruption cases against me. The case against me is not a criminal case, it’s a political case.
“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.”