New Delhi: Suresh Kalmadi chose to back off but Abhay Singh Chautala remained defiant even as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Wednesday invited the Sports Ministry’s wrath and widespread outrage for its inexplicable decision to make the scam-tainted duo its Life Presidents.
Kalmadi and Chautala were elevated to the position at the IOA’s Annual General Meeting in Chennai on Tuesday, stunning the Indian sporting landscape and leaving the Sports Ministry fuming.
As the storm gained in intensity on Wednesday, Kalmadi chose to step aside even as Chautala remained adamant.
“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.
The Ministry, on its part, issued a showcause notice to the IOA and also threatened to severe ties with the body if it failed reverse 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 sacked, we will not deal with the IOA,” Sports Minister Vijay Goel told reporters here.
Earlier, the IOA top brass went incommunicado for some time before Associate vice-President Narinder Batra, who is now the President of International Hockey Federation, criticised the move and called for 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, breaking ranks with the officials, who voted unanimously for these appointments in Chennai.
However, Chautala came out to defend himself by launching an attack on Goel. But that did little to douse the fire and Goel was joined by Ajay Maken, the Sports Minister in the previous government, in criticising the move and 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 here on Thursday.
Chautala, in contrast, wondered what the fuss was all about, going to the extent of ridiculing Goel for expressing pain on his appointment.
“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,” a livid Chautala 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.