The blame game in hockey gathered steam on Monday when Hockey India (HI) secretary general, Narendra Batra, accused the Sports Ministry of being biased.
Terming the Ministry as the ‘Sports Ministry of Punjab’, Batra alleged that it had put pressure on HI to affiliate Hockey Punjab (HP), represented by former India captain Pargat Singh, despite several internal disputes. Pargat had accused the HI on Sunday for blackmailing him to favour Indian Olympic Association president, Suresh Kalmadi, as HI president in return for the state unit’s affiliation.
Rubbishing the charges, Batra accused the Sports Ministry of favouritism. “There was no unanimity within HP, and, the women’s unit had complained of forced alliance. HI with Ashok Mattoo as the president then, had to disregard it and give the affiliation to HP solely under the Ministry’s pressure,” Batra said.
When HT contacted, Mattoo said: “I will not comment on the Ministry’s role in HP’s affiliation. But it has always highlighted the need to affiliate state units at the earliest.”
Pargat denied Batra’s allegations against the Ministry. “We want Punjab to contribute positively to the sport. There is no dispute in HP and I have no personal ambitions other than the welfare of the game. But I am not surprised that the Ministry is being accused as well. What has the Ministry to gain by favouring any state?”
Earlier, Pargat had also accused HI of deliberately postponing the elections, which were scheduled for Feb 7. Batra termed the accusation as imaginative and said the HI will contest the stay in the Supreme Court if necessary. “Our lawyers have told us that we could not contest the decision before 27th (Wednesday), because of the weekend and the national holiday.”
World Cup on schedule
The international hockey federation (FIH) on Monday allayed fears that postponement of HI elections would jeopardise the World Cup.
“The FIH regrets that there is another delay in the election process for Hockey India,” said FIH communications manager, Arjen Meijer, adding that it would not have any effect on the World Cup. “The World Cup will take place in New Delhi from 28 Feb-13 March with the twelve participants as qualified,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Hockey Association is confident of its fight to get HI affiliation following support from Sports Minister MS Gill.
The MHA, which is completing 75 years this year, has moved the Bombay High Court and the matter is set to come up for hearing on Wednesday.
“The court has given a direction to HI to be present for the hearing and give an explanation why no reply was given to MHA’s letters regarding affiliation,” MHA advocate Rakesh Kumar said on Monday.