In a move which could trigger major controversy, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Tuesday named Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala as its lifetime patron and president respectively in its Annual General Meeting (AGM). Before Kalmadi and Chautala, only Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who served as acting IOA chief between 2011 and 2012, was made the Life President, according to IOA’s official website. Kalmadi served as IOA president from 1996 to 2011 and was jailed for 10 months for his involvement in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games corruption scandal but later released on bail.
Sports minister Vijay Goel said that the appointment was a serious issue. “I will look into it. It is a serious issue,” he told NDTV. “It is totally unacceptable to us as both of them are facing serious corruption and criminal charges. In fact, IOA was suspended by IOC when Abhay Chautala and Lalit Bhanot were elected as office bearers of IOA and the suspension was lifted only when the two were removed from the management.” Goel added that the sports ministry has asked for a complete report on the appointments. “We have sought details and on receipt of complete report we shall review the whole situation and take appropriate action. Our government is committed to good governance and transparency in sports. Sports is for public good and sports governance is a public function and, therefore, it is governed by Public law,” he said. “Our government is committed to good governance and transparency in sports.”
‘No clearance needed’
IOA Vice-President Tarlochan Singh said the IOA does not need approval from anybody to name any person as its life president and the decision was taken “unanimously” by the General House. “IOA General Body does not need any clearance from anybody to appoint any person a life president or patron. It was within the rights of the IOA. Moreover, all the past presidents have been made Life Presidents or Patrons,” Tarlochan said. “It was a unanimous decision of the General House of the IOA. A LIfe President is an honorary post. It has no office, no power and does not involved in the day-to-day functioning of the IOA. I don’t see any problem in this decision.”