When the country's top sports administrators go to polls on November 25 to elect the office-bearers of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), there will be a blend of friends becoming fierce opponents and rivals sharing the same platform.
Sportsperson-turned-administrator, Randhir Singh, shared the platform with 'friend' Abhey Singh Chautala, chairman of the Indian Boxing Federation, before the 2000 elections, but the two are heading rival camps today. Randhir, the current IOA secretary-general, and Chautala are contesting for the post of president.
In 2000, Randhir and Chautala had joined forces to topple the then IOA chief, Suresh Kalmadi, who was looking forward to another four-year term. The lobbying for the key post had begun during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games itself with Chautala inviting members of the Indian contingent to a lavish party.
At one point, it seemed the Chautala-Randhir group had virtually taken control of the IOA with the elections just a formality. The venue was hijacked to Panchkula in Haryana, the stronghold of the Chautalas.
Sources say Chautala's dream of becoming the IOA top boss came a cropper as Kalmadi tilted the contest in his favour at the last minute. The election venue was shifted to Delhi, and Kalmadi become president for a second term. He did accommodate Randhir as secretary-general, but the fault lines remained.
Chautala is again nurturing hopes of becoming the IOA chief and he has joined hands with Lalit Bhanot, a close Kalmadi aide. Kalmadi and Chautala, who used to be poles apart, have become staunch supporters to oust Randhir.