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Gill blames HI for election postponement

india Updated: Jan 24, 2010 16:07 IST

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Sports Minister MS Gill on Sunday blamed Hockey India (HI) for the postponement of the elections to the body, saying that some democratically run state associations were left out of the Electoral College leading to the current crisis.

Gill also said that he has asked his officials to talk to the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and discuss the development arising out of a stay by Rajasthan High Court on the issue of affiliations to state units.

"There are some state units like Bombay, Madras, Bengal etc that have been in existence for 70-80 years. I don't believe that all of them are not run democratically. The world hockey body has one-state-one-unit rule, but that does not mean that the names of these old associations are removed and new bodies granted affiliation," Gill said on the sidelines of the opening of Major Dhyanchand National Stadium.

Asked whether the HI elections could be held before the World Cup as mandated by the FIH, Gill said: "FIH chief Leandro Negre had told me that he had two demands, a unified body of men's and women's team and HI elections before the World Cup scheduled Feb 28. We also want free, fair and democratic HI.

"Now, there are some court cases in Rajasthan and Delhi. I have spoken to my officials to talk to FIH and make them aware of these developments.

"Our stand will be clear in court that we want to see the benefit of the game in the country and the players. Elections should be free, fair and transparent. We will accept whatever the court decides."

HI elections were postponed for the third time Saturday following a stay order from Rajasthan High Court over the affiliations granted to units Jan 11. Rajasthan Hockey Association (RHA) has challenged the affiliation given to a newly formed ad-hoc body, saying that their association had been in existence for over six decades and it has the recognition of the state government as it has been formed under the state sports act.

Another matter related to HI elections is in Delhi High Court over the appointment of returning officer. Delhi High Court has sought the response of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on the sports ministry's plea for replacing the returning officer.

HI had appointed Wrestling Federation of India president G.S. Mander as the returning officer, overlooking ministry's guidelines that a retired judge should be appointed for the post.

"We have maintained that the returning officer should be an independent person. I have handled elections in India and I know certain things," the former chief election commissioner said.

Gill also raised doubts over the election process of the HI.

"The electoral role is the basis of all elections. The list of voters should be circulated and people should know about it. There should be openness in the entire process. Everybody should know what is going on. India is a democratic country and elections are held in a manner that is clear, transparent, visible and acceptable to the country."