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It’s all in the family, Indian kabaddi’s ugly side

India’s ex-kabaddi international stars protest against the election of former federation supremo’s wife as president.

other sports Updated: May 23, 2017 23:40 IST
Navneet Singh
The newly formed Kabaddi Association look to challenge the dominance of veteran sports administrator Janardhan Singh Gehlot.
The newly formed Kabaddi Association look to challenge the dominance of veteran sports administrator Janardhan Singh Gehlot.(Twitter)

Former international kabaddi players have joined hands to challenge the dominance of veteran sports administrator Janardhan Singh Gehlot on the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI) by floating New Kabaddi Federation of India (NKFI).

The parallel national body has come up at a time when kabaddi players have caught the eyeballs through Pro Kabaddi League.

MV Prasad Babu, the secretary general of NKFI, says Gehlot’s undemocratic way hampered the development of the sport.

Babu cited the appointment of Gehlot’s wife Mridul as president of the AKFI as the trigger. Mridul is a gynaecologist by profession. During AKFI elections held in April at Jaipur, Mridul was elected for a second term of four years.

“I am sure we have more eligible administrators to oversee a sport in which we’ve won gold at every Asiad,” he told HT.

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Babu, a former international player, said they are planning to organise a national competition soon. “We have support of at least 27 state units. We will provide opportunity to national and international players to become office-bearers,” he added.

Gehlot was AKFI president for over two decades but had to step down in 2012-13 following the implementation of National Sports Code which bars officials from becoming president of a National Sports Federation (NSF) for more than three terms of four years.

Gehlot, however, nominated his wife as president during the 2013 elections. She was re-elected for another term of four years in April. When contacted Mridul Gehlot said, “I was eligible to become president for the second term. There is no issue on that.”

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Mridul is not the only family member that JS Gehlot has promoted. Last year when he stepped down as president of Rajasthan Kabaddi Association, he kept his control over the state body through son Tejesvi Singh who was made the state unit’s president.

The nomination of Mridul has been challenged in the court. Mahipal Singh, a former international, has filed a public interest litigation in a Delhi court. The next hearing is on July 24.

This is not the first time kabaddi federation has split. After the 1997 elections, two factions emerged. One was headed by JS Gehlot and the other by Kuldip Vats. Since both factions failed to reach a compromise ahead of the 1998 Asian Games, six players from each faction were fielded in the national team.