Sports federations reject government bid to fix tenures (Lead)May 2nd, 2010 - 9:06 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) In a major blow to the politicians and top bureaucrats, who continue to remain at the helm of National Sports Federations (NSFs) for years, the Sports Ministry Sunday revived its 35-year old guidelines, restricing the tenure of officials. The sports bodies rejected it outright, saying it is a violation of their democratic and independent existence.
“The maximum tenure of the president of an NSF (national sports federation), including the IOA, shall be twelve years with or without break; and that for the secretary and the treasurer shall be not more than two successive tenures of four years each,” the sports ministry said in a statement.
“The secretary and the treasurer shall be eligible for standing for re-election to the post after a minimum interval of four years. There will be a retirement age of 70 years for all members and office bearers.”
As per the ministry regulation, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi and several others like Vijay Kumar Malhotra, president of the Archery Association of India (AAI), and V.K. Verma of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) will not be able to seek re-election.
The ministry said this is being done with a view to encourage “professional management, good governance, transparency.”
Top office bearers of NSF’s, however, refused to buy the argument.
“You cannot disqualify or debar anyone from contesting the elections. Do you stop a member of parliament from seeking re-election after the end of his term?” G.S.Mander, president of Wrestling Federation of India, told IANS.
P.K.Muralidhar Raja and Baljeet Singh Sethi, the secretary generals of the Indian Boxing Federation and the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), also are of the same opinion.
“The order has come at the wrong time. The country is all set to host the Commonwealth Games in just five months. This rule will create uneasiness in the federations. There is no rationale behind it,” Sethi told IANS.
“All sports federations conduct free and fair elections and office bearers are elected. If a federation office bearer gets elected in a democratic way, there is no constitution that can stop him from taking charge,” he added.
Raja also said that there was no logic behind the rule.
“I don’t think there should be any cap on the tenure if the office bearer is doing well. In fact, that is more a reason why the officials should get re-elected,” he said.
Mander said the goverment has the right to pull up the NSFs if they are not functioning properly, but it cannot stop somebody from seeking re-election.
“We are following all government guidelines, be it transparency in selection procedures or the finances. There is proper audit done by the government agencies. There is nothing to hide. If any NSF is not functioning properly or if there is a financial bungling, then there are many steps the ministry can take to make them toe the line. But if there is one rotten apple in the basket you cannot throw away the basket,” Mander said.
“See, we have done so well in shooting in the last couple of years. Do you want to change them and bring new people? Is it going to help the sport? Besides people are there just for the love of the sport. It’s a honorary post and we are not getting any salary for it,” said Mander, who is serving his third term as WFI president, which began after a six-year gap in 2007.
Mander also said if the policy is followed, federations will lose clout in international bodies.
“There are many federation officials who over a period of time develop good relationships with the international federations and it is of great help. The president of international wrestling federation is my good friend and that is the reason we got a special course for coaches here.”
“We will lose our clout in international sports federations if there is a fixed tenure. By the time the person will come to know about the functioning of the international federations, he will be on his way out and Indian sports will suffer.”
Mander said it was time that NSFs will have to take care of their own finances and not depend on government money.
“The IOA has stopped taking money from the government. The NSFs will have to get sponsors and corporates to manage their finances. It will take time though, because it is difficult to get sponsors.”
There are several politicians who are heading the national sports bodies. There are also many secretary generals who have held office for more than two decades.
Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi has been the IOA president from 1996, while BJP leader V.K. Malhotra is president of the Archery Association of India for more than three decades.
Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s reign at the Cycling Federation of India is into its 14th year while V.K. Verma, a former bureaucrat and director general of Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, is president of Badminton Association of India for the past 12 years.
Congress leader Satish Sharma is chief of the Aero Club for 24 years, while B.S. Adityan, a businessman, has been at the helm of the Volleyball Federation of India for 12 years.
Other presidents of NSFs for nearly a decade are Digvijay Singh (shooting), Ajay Singh Chautala (table tennis), Yashwant Sinha (tennis), Abhay Singh Chautala (boxing), Ashoke Ghosh (kho kho), K.P. Singh Deo (rowing) and K.N. Kapur (swimming).
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