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The blame game: Sports Minister vs IOA chief

After IOA president criticises Mani Shankar Aiyar for skipping the meeting, the minister hits back in his typically manner, reports Khurram Habib.

delhi Updated: Feb 05, 2008 03:12 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times

The differences between the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Sports Ministry seem to be never-ending. After the IOA, led by president Suresh Kalmadi, vehemently rejected the revised National Sports Policy Draft and criticised Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar for skipping the meeting where the revised draft was to be presented, the minister hit back in his typically open, no-holds-barred manner.

Speaking to the Hindustan Times on Sunday, Aiyar, while criticising the IOA’s approach, said, "The IOA has found time only to abuse my colleagues and me through the media… we have nevertheless taken note of the substantive points made through the media and re-drafted the original version…

"…It is precisely to obtain their perspective that we placed the draft in their hands six months ago. Had I been in Kalmadi’s place and thank God I am not, I would have prepared detailed written amendments to the original draft instead of whining away to the media and foreign entities.

"…The lack of sincerity and good faith on the part of IOA is however indicated by IOA’s failure on three separate occasions — to attend consultations arranged by us or to suggest alternate dates."

While defending the policy, the Minister also said that the ministry will consider their (IOA and NSFs) technical objections, and said, "We have taken full cognisance of all the points they’ve made. But, of course, cognisance does not mean acceptance. We will meet their technical objections as far as we can go but policy is for the government to decide and it is in the government that the final decisions will reside."

The Minister appeared irked with the criticism levelled at his absence from the latest meeting with the IOA and NSFs. “This (their criticism of my absence) surprised me not only because we’d clearly indicated that these consultations, like all others, except those at parliamentary forums, will take place at secretary’s level, but also because virtually none of the IOA and NSF office-bearers have called on me despite my having indicated in person and media that my doors are still open. Now that I find that Kalmadi and his senior colleagues wish to meet me personally, I have told them that they are welcome to see me this week or after the working group submits its report, as they prefer.”

The Minister also said, "Since their dislike for the policy seems to be so concentrated on my persona, I thought my absence would help them air their views."

So when would be the draft ready? "I’ve told the Prime Minister that a draft note for the Cabinet will be in his hands by early March."