Hockey gets a penalty Stokes: 83-year-old takes the hot seat | india | Hindustan Times
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Hockey gets a penalty Stokes: 83-year-old takes the hot seat

Not allowed to officially announce the results as per Supreme Court directives, it was learnt that 83-year-old Vidya Stokes of Hockey Himachal thumped her opponent in former national player Pargat Singh (Hockey Punjab) by a margin of 41 votes to 21 for the post of president. See cartoon

india Updated: Aug 06, 2010 00:23 IST
HT Correspondent

Hockey India successfully conducted its elections in the capital on Thursday. Not allowed to officially announce the results as per Supreme Court directives, it was learnt that 83-year-old Vidya Stokes of Hockey Himachal thumped her opponent in former national player Pargat Singh (Hockey Punjab) by a margin of 41 votes to 21 for the post of president. This despite strict government guidelines barring candidates above the age of 70 to contest for posts in national federations. Stokes will, however remain the interim President till the apex court gives its final verdict. A detailed hearing is scheduled for August 19.

Stokes's candidature was under a cloud of controversy due to herexceeding stipulated age-limit by as many as 13 years. Her nomination was only accepted after HI secretary general Narinder Batra clarified out rightly that the interim body, registered under the Societies Act, was not obligated to follow government guidelines. Batra had further said that HI did not require government assistance or funding, a claim that was challenged by 45-year-old Pargat vehemently. This eventually led to HI being de-recognised by the sports ministry late on Thursday (see box).

The result itself though brought a smile in the Stokes camp. “It's a great opportunity for me. Hockey needs ‘upliftment’ in the country and people have chosen me for my honesty and hard work during my association with Women Hockey in India,” Stokes told HT after the polls.

Interestingly Stokes, whose association with hockey dates back to the late 80's, has had ample opportunities before, to ‘uplift’ the national sport and yet it remains in shambles for various off-field reasons. Recently, some members of the women's national team rebelled against Stokes over payment of monitory dues. Her role as the President of the interim body, in the hockey sex scandal that broke out last month was only that of a de-jure authority.

Under such prevailing conditions, Olympian Pargat Singh challenged her authority in the body. The 45-year-old ex-fullback and Arjuna awardee was responsible for uniting different factions of hockey under the banner of Hockey Punjab, not surprising as he has been an open critic of hockey administration and administrators in the country. On Thursday though, Pargat was evidently disappointed. "I will take the result in my stride. But there has been a lot of groupism that has existed, which I targeted. It is likely to go on now, and so will my fight against it," he said.

And a fight it will be as almost all the big winners in the poll belong to Stokes's faction. Narinder Batra (Hockey Jammu & Kashmir) defeated Gunjum Haider (Hockey Andhra) by 27 votes to retain his post as secretary general while Haider, who was running for the post of treasurer as well, lost out to Mushtaque Ahmed (Hockey Bihar) 45 votes to 17. Thankfully though, these members are well within the age limit and are more likely to contribute effectively before they reach theirsunset years.

Panel to probe sexual harassment charges

In the wake of charges of sexual harassment in the women's hockey team, the Sports Ministry formed a five-member committee, headed by director Sarada Ali Khan, to investigate the charges levelled against former coach Maharaj Krishan Kaushik.

Director Deepika Kachhal will work in the committee as the special counsellor. The committee also includes deputy secretary Thanglemlian and private secretary Padma

Memon.

Bulbul Das, advocate and member in-charge law and legislation, is also in the committee along with Delhi Commission for Women member Yasmin Khan.