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Political bout in boxing hero’s state Olympic body

india Updated: Sep 22, 2008 23:25 IST
Saurabh Duggal

Athletes from Haryana are making their mark at the international level, but the Haryana Olympic Association (HOA) is in a state of turmoil because of political wrangling.

As a result, after the exploits of Vijender and the commendable showing by Akhil Kumar, Jitender Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt in Beijing, it’s time for a showdown between Abhey Singh Chautala and Naveen Jindal.

The two have been at loggerheads since 2006 when after coming to power in the state and ignoring the HOA headed by Chautala, the Congress government formed its own state Olympic association with MP of Kurukshetra, Jindal, as president.

The IOA refused to recognise Jindal’s HOA and Chautala’s body continued to function as the official. Interestingly, Jindal went to the 2007 National Games in Guwahati to take part in shooting as a representative of the state shooting body recognised by the HOA headed by the Indian National Lok Dal leader.

The second part of this political tussle was also enacted last year, when the state government once again said it wouldn’t recognise Chautala’s HOA and appointed IAS officer R.R. Jowel as administrator to look after the HOA headed by Jindal.

In a continuation of that, the state government now wants an election of the HOA, irrespective of whether the outcome would be accepted by the IOA. It will be held on September 25 and conducted by Justice (retired) G.C. Garg, who was appointed by Jowel as Returning Officer.

The HOA is not due for elections and Chautala was unanimously reelected president last year. There are anomalies in the list of voters as well. The state athletics, boxing, handball, shooting and kabaddi units — to name a few — are not those which are affiliated to their respective national federations.

For example, according to the voters’ list, DGP R.S. Dalal is president of the state boxing association and Anand Singh Danghi (Congress MLA) is heading the athletics association. But in the records of the boxing and Athletics associations, Chautala is the state boxing body chief and Nafe Singh Rathi heads the athletics unit.

Asked about this, the Returning Officer said he was working on information provided by the state government. “The Haryana Sports and Youth and Welfare Department forwarded me the list of state associations and going through it I prepared the final list. I had also issued instructions that in case of objections, they should be submitted by Aug 12. I didn’t receive any objection,” said Justice Garg.

“My duty is to conduct fair elections. Whether the HOA gets recognition from IOA or not is none of my business,” he said, when asked if he was concerned about the outcome of the elections. The IOA is unlikely to let the development go unnoticed. “This is against the Olympic movement,” IOA joint-secretary Raja K.S. Sidhu told HT. “The state Olympic bodies are autonomous units and the governments can’t interfere. In case of disputes, there is a SC order that the IOA will function as arbitrator,” added Sidhu.