In a dramatic turn of events, Randhir Singh, one of the two leading candidates contesting for the post of president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), withdrew his nomination on Sunday.
With this development, the decks have been cleared for Abhey Singh Chautala, chairman of the Indian Boxing Federation, to assume charge of the high-profile post. Randhir, the IOA secretary general, met the returning officer, Justice VK Bali, and withdrew his nomination. The third candidate in the fray, Raj Chopra, also withdrew his candidature.
Randhir and Chautala are heading the two groups contesting the various IOA posts in the polls, now slated for December 5.
Randhir said on Sunday that he was confident of winning the polls, but due to the ongoing controversies, his conscience didn't allow him to remain in the race.
"Being a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), I felt I should withdraw my name," he told HT after the development.
"The IOC sent a letter two days back and it was clear that these elections would not be recognised by them and India face disaffiliation if the polls are held under the government's Sports Code," said Randhir. Right now, it is not clear whether his group will contest the other posts.
Chautala welcomed the decision and congratulated his rival. "I welcome his decision to withdraw from the contest and congratulate him for this. From Day One, we have been requesting him not to contest the elections and to remain as an elder brother to all of us," he said.
Recently, IOC chief Jacques Rogge had warned the IOA of suspension if the elections didn't adhere to the Olympic Charter. The IOA has until November 30 to explain its position to the IOC.
While the government wants the IOA to follow the sports code, it is legally binding as well. The Delhi High Court has directed the IOA to conduct the elections as per government guidelines.
Randhir also said that the IOA could have settled the issues and then conducted the polls. "Things could have been settled amicably without ruffling feathers," he said.