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Sports minister, hockey boss clash

As the Jothikumaran issue rocks the Parliament, Sports Minister MS Gill asks IHF Chief KPS Gill to step down. B Shrikant & Chetan Chauhan report.

india Updated: Apr 23, 2008 11:45 IST

If the crux of this battle wasn’t about such a serious issue, the Gill versus Gill clash would make for a pretty entertaining story.

A day after a TV sting operation caught Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) secretary K Jothikumaran allegedly accepting a bribe to have a player selected for May’s Azlan Shah Cup, Sports Minister MS Gill sought the resignation of his college-mate and IHF chief KPS Gill.

Both Gills are Government College for Boys, Ludhiana, alumni and have worked in the Punjab government: MS as an IAS officer and KPS, of course, as the IPS’s supercop.

The minister did make a reference to Jothikumaran saying the public’s faith in him had been “shattered”, but indicated that KPS was equally at fault for the mess Indian hockey was in. His advice to KPS was simple: “I believe, in the totality of the situation, the IHF president must introspect, and review his position. In consideration of the situation facing Indian hockey, I urge him to consider withdrawing from his responsibility. It is time to let other Indians make an attempt to lift our hockey,” he said.

KPS Gill, typically, laughed away the minister’s suggestion and said there was no problem with the selection process. asked about the minister’s remarks and whether he thought that the entire IHF executive committee should take moral responsibility and resign, as Jothikumaran (secretary-general from 1994 and KPS’s right-hand man) was an integral part of it, Gill said: “If that is the case then the entire government should resign (if a member of it faces any allegation).”

The IHF boss, characteristically, lost his temper when asked if he felt the pressure as the clamour for his head intensified with the issue being raised in Parliament. “Don’t ask such stupid questions,” he retorted and demanded we get off the line and then cut the phone himself.