Haryana sports minister and former Olympian Sandeep Singh front runner for HOA chief post
Incumbent president former ADGP Rathee, former Indian hockey skipper Sandeep will battle for the postUpdated: Sep 10, 2020 00:53 IST
Haryana sports minister and two-time hockey Olympian Sandeep Singh is a front runner for the post of president of the Haryana Olympic Association (HOA).
The state Olympic body polls are scheduled for September 19 at HOA Bhawan in Panchkula.
Former Indian hockey skipper Sandeep, who made his debut in the Vidhan Sabha from Pehowa constituency on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket, is all set to challenge incumbent president former ADGP PV Rathee’s group. Rathee is believed to be close to former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. He had taken the reins of HOA during the Congress regime.
If Sandeep is able to topple the Rathee group, he will become the first Olympian to head the body.
Other politicians, who are heading sports associations are Union minister Rao Inderjit Singh, who is leading the Haryana Rifle Shooting Association and Paralympics Association of Haryana; BJP MP Dharambir Singh in swimming; and Congress Rajya Sabha member Deepender Singh Hooda the wrestling unit. A number of bureaucrats and police officers are also heading the state sports associations.
The HOA has a voting strength of 124. There are three votes each for the 33 affiliated state sports associations and one vote each for 21 district Olympic associations. There are four institutional members --- Haryana Police Academy, Madhuban, Motlilal Nehru Sports School, Rai, Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation and Shah Satnam Sports, Sirsa, who have a vote each.
All 21 district Olympic associations had dues pending for HOA’s annual subscription for the last four to 10 years, but with the state sports minister jumping into the fray, all district bodies cleared their arrears before the last day of submission, which is September 10.
“Sandeep being an Olympian and holding the sports portfolio in the Manohar Lal Khattar cabinet is the most-eligible person for heading the HOA. Many state associations have extended their support to Sandeep and hopefully he will be able to sail through,” said the secretary of one of the affiliated state sports associations.
In the past, control over HOA has always been seen as a prestige issue for the government in power. Be it the Congress or the Indian National Lok Dal, in their tenure they had used their political positions to capture the state Olympic body. During the previous tenure of the BJP government, Rathee had the numbers, so the government refrained from jumping in the direct HOA elections. In 2015, for a short one-year stint, BJP member of Parliament from Bhiwani, Dharambir Singh, was unanimously made the president with an understanding with Rathee, and later in 2016, Rathee became the HOA chief.
“The last state games were organised in 2012. There has not been a single activity in the last four years. This is going against the incumbent group and many sports associations are hoping that the sports minister will strengthen their units and they will be able to hold activities with the government support,” says Sajjan Kumar, who was a joint secretary in the Rathee-led HOA and resigned on September 4. “But, at the same time, you can’t take Rathee ji lightly. He has been at the top of the affairs of HOA for a long time, so some associations might be loyal to him.”