Rajeev Mehta: The official who's no stranger to controversy

Rajeev Mehta, secretary-general of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) who was arrested in Glasgow on charges of drunk driving, is no stranger to controversy.
Hindustan Times | By Anupam Trivedi, Dehradun
UPDATED ON AUG 03, 2014 11:02 PM IST

Rajeev Mehta, secretary-general of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) who has been arrested in Glasgow on charges of drunk driving, is no stranger to controversy.

Mehta, a native of Haldwani in Uttarakhand is still facing an official probe over the misuse of Rs 15 lakh provided by the Uttarakhand government to him in early 2000. He was then the president of State Olympic Association (SOA).

Deepak Azad, an RTI activist who is pursuing the case, alleged that Mehta had transferred Rs 11 lakh to his wife's account. "The seven-page report of audit provided to us under RTI proves our allegation but still no action has been taken."

Mehta, who was elected in February this year as the secretary-general of IOA was the captain of Kumaon University's cricket team in 1985. Later he became president of Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association. After the creation of Uttarakhand, Mehta became a president of SOA.

From being the president of the low-profile Kho Kho federation to secretary-general of the IOA, Mehta has had a meteoric rise in Indian sports.

Mehta emerged as a compromise candidate for the IOA job and had the blessings of Haryana strongman Abhay Chautala, whose controversial election as IOA president had led to India's suspension by the IOC in 2012.

A businessman by profession, Mehta presently lives in Haldwani, the business hub of Kumaon region in the hill state. His neighbours in Haldwani were stunned over the news of his arrest. Meanwhile, the sports fraternity, too, in Mehta's hometown said it was an unfortunate incident.

"We can't believe that he (Mehta) has been held. May be he has been framed. We are waiting for details" said Naveen Verma, president of Haldwani Sports Association.

All throughout his career, Mehta has worn multiple hats. Besides being the president of the Kho Kho Federation of India (KKFI), he is also the associate vice-president of Hockey India (HI) and was the former president of the Uttarakhand Football Association (UFA).

Just before the February elections, Mehta was forced to resign as the UFA president since it would have been a violation of the IOA constitution for office bearers. Sensibly he stepped down but continues to be the associate vice-president of HI.

What helped Mehta strike gold in Indian sports was his proximity to both former IOA president Suresh Kalmadi and secretary-general Randhir Singh. Even though Randhir and Kalmadi had a fall-out after the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Mehta had good relations with both.

(with IANS inputs)

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