New Delhi: A day after his arrest on corruption charges, Suresh Kalmadi’s 15-year tenure as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president came to an abrupt end after he was sacked from the post and veteran sports administrator V. K. Malhotra was ‘unanimously´ named as the acting president.
The swift action to end Kalmadi’s reign as the supremo was taken by the IOA officials in a meeting chaired by Malhotra himself, citing clause 13B of the constitution which empowers the vice-president to take interim charge in the absence of the president.
Malhotra said he will call a meeting of the IOA Executive Board at the earliest in consultation with the secretary general Randhir Singh, who is out of town, and discuss the situation arising out of the arrest of Kalmadi.
“IOA constitution is very clear, there cannot be vacuum and work of the IOA will have to continue. So I have accepted to work as the acting president of the IOA,” Malhotra told reporters after the meeting.
“I will call a meeting of the Executive Committee as soon as possible which is prescribed under the constitution. Secretary general (Randhir Singh) is returning to Delhi and after consulting him I will call a meeting of the Executive Board. We will discuss all the issues at length in the board meeting,” he said.
Kalmadi, former Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee chairman, was arrested on Monday by CBI for allegedly awarding a contract for the mega event to a Swiss company at an inflated rate of Rs141 crore in a “pre-meditated” manner.
But, the haste shown in removing Kalmadi came as a surprise to many of the IOA office bearers, particularly when its secretary general Randhir Singh was out of station.
It was not clear whether the meeting, where 15 members are said to have attended, has legal validity. The IOA officials, however, maintained that senior members were consulted over telephone before taking the decision to appoint Malhotra as acting president.
Vice president Tarlochan Singh, who was also present at the meeting, said that many of the members could not be present at the conclave because of the short notice but they have consulted them on phone.
“Under Article 13B of IOA constitution, the senior vice president will chair all the meeting during the absence of the president. In case of the long absence of the president, the senior vice president will discharge all the responsibilities of the president. So we have decided to appoint Mr Malhotra as the acting president,” Tarlochan said.
The IOA’s Executive Board is scheduled to meet on 1 May to discuss the sports ministry’s National Sports Draft Bill and that forum could be used to discuss the future course of action.
The IOA administrators are to meet the sports ministry officials to discuss the bill on 2 May as per the date given by the ministry.
“Since we are scheduled to meet on May 1 though for some other purpose, it is very much possible that we will discuss Kalmadi’s arrest and future course of action,” the source said.
When contacted, Randhir Singh said that he will be reaching Delhi later in the day. “I will be reaching soon and will take of the situation. No meeting has been called yet,” he told PTI.
The sports ministry had on Monday asked the IOA to appoint a new president since a person who has been chargesheeted or jailed should not head any organization.
The ministry had also said that it will take legal opinion on whether to take action on its own in case the IOA refuses to adhere to its directive.
The IOA has been left in a disarray with the arrest of Kalmadi who had considerable clout within the organization. With his two trusted aides Lalit Bhanot and V. K. Verma also in jail in connection with the CWG scam, the leadership vacuum is felt even more.
As per the IOA constitution, a person can be removed from his post with a two-third majority in the general body.
As per the IOA structure, there is only one senior vice president while there are as many as 12 vice presidents which include politicians like J. S. Gehlot, Abhay Singh Chautala, Jagdish Tytler, Bhubneshwar Kalita and Tarlochan Singh among others.
Randhir Singh is the only general secretary and N. Ramachandran the treasurer while there are six joint secretaries, including Bhanot. The executive committee comprises 19 members.
The idea of having a huge representation is to ensure that all the national federations are represented in the highest decision making body.