It's official now. Hockey India is not only finding it difficult to get the support of the state units to conduct elections, its efforts to merge the men's and women's bodies too are not making headway.
In desperation, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has directed the state Olympic associations to accord affiliation to only those bodies that are recognised by a four-member committee that includes IOA representative Lalit K Bhanot.
Defending the move, Bhanot said: “Hockey India is a new body and needs our support as it is facing problems forming the state units.”
In a letter, IOA president, Suresh Kalmadi, informed the state Olympic associations about setting up of the committee and asked them to consult it before taking any decision on affiliation. Besides Bhanot, the committee includes Harish Sharma (chairman), Rajeev Mehta and Mohd Mushtaq Ahmed of the Bihar Olympic Association. The state associations are already up in arms over the manner in which the IOA set up Hockey India by putting in charge administrators from other sport. The latest intervention is sure to cause more heartburn, as outsiders will again decide on the fate of hockey units.
HT had already reported that the Hockey India was struggling to get the stats units together to conduct elections despite getting an ultimatum from international hockey federation (FIH) chief, Leandro Negre, two months ago.
Negre will be in the Capital on Monday to announce the official sponsor for next year's World Cup.
Hockey India secretary general, Mohd Aslam, explained the need for IOA's intervention. “The committee along with IOA representative Lalit Bhanot will be acting as a catalyst for Hockey India and will provide affiliation to state units. But Hockey India will remain the prime body and all matters will be conducted under its name.”
But can the IOA get directly involved in the internal matters of a federation?
“My job will be to coordinate with the state Olympic associations to help out the apex hockey body conduct elections,” said Bhanot, who is also a joint secretary in the IOA. So, is this intervention a sign that things are not working in favour of Hockey India?
“We asked for a period of six months. I am very confident that elections will be conducted within the time frame,” Aslam said.