This merger is generating more heat than even the dissolution of the KPS Gill-led Indian Hockey Federation more than a year back. The announcement of the amalgamation of the men's and women's hockey bodies went off peacefully inside the cool environs of a plush hotel in the Capital, but outside there was an uproar.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) --- having been 'threatened' by the international hockey federation (FIH) to merge the two bodies or risk losing the 2010 World Cup --- on Wednesday announced the formation of 'Hockey India', with a seven-member provisional committee entrusted the task of conducting elections within six months.
"The IOA received a letter from the FIH on May 5 demanding action within 15 days or (else) lose the World Cup. Hence, the IOA had to act fast," said its president Suresh Kalmadi.
The seven-member committee includes Ashok Mattoo (president), Vidya Stokes (senior vice-president), Mohammad Aslam Khan (secretary-general), Narender Batra (treasurer), Rajeev Mehta, Harish Sharma and Mushtaq Ahmed.
“Now that we have a registered body with provisional heads, the next job is to get the state bodies on the same page and conduct elections,” Kalmadi added.
Announcing his plan, Mattoo, said, “As per the Hockey India constitution, we need 10 state bodies to merge the two wings. As soon as I get the mandate, I will conduct the elections. Although, the aim is to bring all 28 states on a common platform, elections can be held even with 10 associations.”
The move, however, has angered quite a few hockey administrators with many saying that a “handful of IOA officials” could not be allowed to run the affairs.
HT has learnt that 32 Indian Women's Hockey Federation units and several men's hockey state bodies will be meeting in New Delhi on June 10 to decide the future course of action. “We feel cheated,” said IWHF secretary Amrit Bose, adding, “How could a handful of people take such an important decision… the issue should have been discussed in an open house.
“We were ready for merger as per the FIH instructions, but it was done in an arbitrary manner.” She also announced the cancellation of all three nationals --- juniors (Hyderabad), seniors (Lucknow) and sub-juniors (Tamil Nadu).
“We didn't want to create any hurdles in the formation of Hockey India, but the way it has been done is completely illegal,” said Bose.
Apart from initiating legal action, the aggrieved state associations look set to approach the Asian Hockey Federation and the FIH.
Meanwhile, the Bengal Hockey Association on Wednesday sent a legal notice to Sports Minister M.S. Gill, asking him not to recognise the “so-called” Hockey India without holding discussions with all the “stakeholders”.
“How can people like Mattoo, Aslam and Harish Sharma decide the fate of hockey in the country when they don't even know anything about the sport?” asked BHA chief J.B. Roy. “Without proper elections, its legality can be questioned any day,” he added.