Ajay Maken is protesting the appointment of Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala as Life Presidents of the Indian Olympic Association
New Delhi: Strongly protesting the appointment of tainted Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala as Life Presidents of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), former sports minister Ajay Maken on Wednesday called on the government to take serious steps to reverse the decision and save the image of the country.
Terming the appointments as “sad and painful", he also asked the government to approach the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the issue.
“As a former Sports Minister and sports enthusiast, the IOA’s decision to appoint Kalmadi and Chautala as Life Presidents of IOA is sad and very painful. This decision is not good for sports and India’s image," Maken told reporters in New Delhi today.
“I request the Sports Minister not only to convey his reservations but take strong actions to reverse the decision. All the National Sports Federations are funded by the Sports Ministry, so the government should exercise its full powers to reverse the decision. If they do so there is no reason the matter can’t be resolved."
Maken called on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled central government to exercise its powers and force the IOA to withdraw the move.
“The first step to rectify is that the IOA should be pressurised to call an Emergency Meeting and forced to take back its decision till both Kalmadi and Chautala get clearance from the court. The government should also approach the International Olympic Committee’s Ethics Committee. The government should support all the Public Interest Litigations (PIL) that will be filed in the court on this issue. If they are not removed this will be a big taint on Indian sports," Maken said.
Sports minister Vijay Goel has already lashed out at the IOA for making tainted Kalmadi and Chautala the Life Presidents at its annual general meeting in Chennai, saying it was “totally unacceptable" as both of them were facing serious criminal and corruption charges.
Maken also questioned BJP Member of Parliament (MP) Anurag Thakur, BJP-ally Siromoni Akali Dal (SAD) MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and IOA sitting vice-president Tarlochan Singh for not opposing the appointments being a part of the AGM yesterday. “Today when we are talking about eradicating corruption and graft from the country we are bringing back such tainted individuals. What message the IOA is giving?" he asked.
“Anurag Thakur, Dhindsa and Tarlochan Singh were all part of IOA Executive Committee and were there at the meeting yesterday. I request them all to take back the decision for the image of the country," Maken added.
Maken said tainted and corrupt individuals have no place in the system.
“When the Commonwealth Games corruption came up it was the ruling party which questioned us (Congress) but we acted immediately, removing Kalmadi from all positions. Now under the ruling regime such appointments are taking place. How can they justify that?" he questioned.
Maken, under whose tenure the first Sports Bill was made in 2011, said had the bill been approved by the cabinet then not a single public functionary would have been a part of National Sports Federations (NSFs) in the country.
“All NSFs have been hijacked by the politicians. When I was the Sports Minister in 2011, we introduced the Sports Bill which clearly mentioned that no public functionaries be it politicians or bureaucrats, can be a part of sports federations. If it was adopted 95 per cent of the executive board of the NSFs would have been ousted by now," he said.
Kalmadi served as the IOA president from 1996 to 2011 and was jailed for 10 months for his involvement in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games corruption scandal but was later released on bail.
Chautala, on the other hand, served as the president of the IOA from December 2012 to February 2014 when the sports body was suspended by the parent IOC for fielding charge-sheeted candidates at the elections. His election as IOA chief was annulled by the IOC.