IOA president Narinder Batra and IOC president Thomas Bach. (Getty file Images)
NEW DELHI: Indian Olympic Association (IOA) chief, Narinder Batra, on Tuesday refuted allegations of wrongdoings during his election to the top post of the IOA in his brief reply to International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) president, Thomas Bach, arguing that IOA’s vice president, Sudhanshu Mittal, has been trying to “damage my image and reputation as a means to project himself as a candidate for the post of president in the 2021 Indian Olympic Association’s elections”.
Batra, who has been home quarantining since May 28 after seven of his family members were found to be Covid-19 positive, informed Bach in his WhatsApp reply to him that he had, at no stage, flouted the rules and regulations of the IOA or the International Hockey Federation (FIH) during his election for the post of the IOA presidentship, to which, he got duly elected on December 14, 2017. Batra said that it was disappointing to know that Mittal, who himself was elected as the IOA VP during the same electoral process, has now been trying to raise the issue of his ineligibility nearly two-and-a-half-year later after the IOA elections in December 2017.
“I am sending this message in reference to the email of Sudhanshu Mittal, IOA VP, dated June 6, 2020. Although the email of Mittal is self-motivated and clearly his intent is to malign my reputation ahead of the IOA elections scheduled for 2021, I felt it necessary to briefly address the misleading comments of Mittal in his email to you all,” Batra replied to Bach and the IOC Executive Board and its members.
In his mail on Saturday, Mittal had referred to the Article 7.2 of the FIH Statute (Election to the Executive Board) which stated that the “President and Presidents of the Continental Federations shall within thirty (30) days of election retire from (and during the term of his office shall not accept) any executive office or other position (not including honorary or ex-officio positions) within any NA or CF. He shall during his term as President have no direct or indirect involvement in the day to day operations of an NA or CF”.
Mittal, in his mail to the IOC and its president Bach, had contended that, “By the above reading of the Article 7.2 of the FIH Statute, it is very clear that Narender Batra could not simultaneously be the President of the FIH and hold any executive office or other position with Hockey India. For this very reason, Narender Batra stepped down as the President of Hockey India in December 2016 and did not hold any post in Hockey India. Hence, Narender Batra held no executive post in Hockey India w.e.f from December 2016 so that he could take charge as the President, FIH as per the statute of FIH. In December 2017, the elections of IOA were due. Shockingly, Narender Batra was nominated as a candidate for the Post of President, IOA and he accepted the same.”
Batra, countering Mittal’s assertion, wrote to Bach explaining: “Mittal refers to Article 7.2 of the FIH Statute. The above Article is in the FIH Statute with effect from November 3, 2018. My election to the post of the IOA president was on December 14, 2017 and, as such, this Article was not applicable at the time of my IOA election. Further, I was elected to the post of the President of the FIH on November 12, 2016. For both my election to the IOA in 2017 and the FIH in 2016, the FIH Statues dated November 12, 2016 was applicable and no such Article appears in the FIH Statutes of 2016. To ensure there was no conflict of interest during my election as the FIH President, I resigned from the post of President, Hockey India, on November 25, 2016.”
Mittal then had referred to Article 10.3 of the IOA Constitution which read: “The voting units will forward to the IOA the names of their representative(s) entitled to attend and vote at the Elective General Meeting of the IOA at least 20 days prior to the holding of the General Meeting. The representatives nominated by each unit must be members of the executive bodies of such units. The nomination shall be signed by both President and Secretary-General (This can also come by 2 separate emails) of the concerned unit. The right of exercising the vote shall vest with the authorized representative of the voting member unit.”
Mittal, then based his argument on this Article to establish that Batra’s appointment as the IOA chief was “illegal. “The constitution of the IOA is very clear, that the representatives nominated by each unit of the IOA like Hockey India, must be members of the executive committee of such Unit. Narendra Batra was a representative on behalf of Hockey India in the December 2017 elections of the IOA and voted as a representative on behalf of Hockey India. Since he had already resigned from any office bearer’s post with Hockey India in order to comply with the FIH Statute, there is no possible way that he could be in the executive committee of Hockey India, unless Narender Batra has given false declarations and information to the FIH and to everyone else that he has resigned from Hockey India.”
Mittal further wrote: “Hockey India and Narendra Batra have in order to be part of the electoral college, voters list and to be elected as the President IOA, given false information and declarations to the IOA vide letter dated 17.11.2017 that Narendra Batra is holding a post in the executive committee of Hockey India. The same is completely false on the face of it which can be seen because of the Statute of FIH, Narender Batra was incapable of holding any post in the executive committee of Hockey India. The letter dated 17.11.2017 is an insult to the IOA as an institution and such false letters should not be taken for granted as it is a matter very serious in nature. Narender Batra, instead of following the rules and regulations of the IOA and blatantly flouted the rules and regulations of the IOA only so that he can become the President of the IOA.”
Batra countered this charge in his reply to the IOC’s top brass: “Mittal himself stood in these elections and won the post of IOA VP. At the time, Mittal had no objections with my election as the IOA President. As mentioned in Mittal’s email and reconfirmed above, I did resign from my Hockey India office-bearer post in 2016, however retained my position as a Life Member of Hockey India. An almost similar objection was raised on December 4, 2017 to the IOA Election Commission by Praveen Mahajan, President of the All India Tennis Association (AITA) regarding my ineligibility for inclusion in the electoral college list for the IOA elections scheduled for December 14, 2017. The complaint was withdrawn by Mahajan and the election commission, which comprised of three retired Hon’ble High Court judges unanimously advised that there was no substance to the complaint.”
“I do hope that the above clarifications will be taken on record in the meantime, and once I return to the office, I will send a more detailed reply including the relevant documents and attachments to refute the allegations made by this malicious motivated individual (read Mittal),” Batra signed off.