The sports ministry's directive to adhere to age and tenure guidelines had little effect on the Archery Association of India (AAI) elections as veteran sports administrator and politician, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, was re-elected president of the federation on Friday.
The result means the octogenarian BJP leader will continue to remain in the post he has held since 1973. It was for the first time in the history of the federation that Malhotra had a challenger --- BVP Rao --- but the former bureaucrat suffered a comprehensive defeat.
The main reason for Malhotra's win, said a source, was that his roots run deep in the state units.
As many as 12 units are either run by people associated with the BJP or belong to states where the party is in power. "He (Malhotra) has unconditional support from those units," said a member of the federation. Each state unit has three votes, so, mathematically he always has 35 to 40 votes in his kitty.
Also, several states where archery draws a blank are surviving because of Malhotra's clout.
Hence, they too owe their allegiance to him. Officials of non-performing state units getting importance in the federation are a major reason why Malhotra has maintained his stronghold, his critics say.
However, the sports ministry is unlikely to take the flouting of its guidelines on age and tenure lying down. Malhotra is ineligible on both counts – he is above 70 (the upper age limit set by the ministry) and has served several terms (only three terms of four years each are permitted by the government).
"We are firm on the code. It has to be followed. There is no relaxation," said PK Deb, secretary, sports, on the AAI elections.