NEW DELHI: Top tennis official Anil Khanna has decided not to contest the election for the Indian Olympic Association president's post even though the deadline for the withdrawal of his nomination papers has passed.
Khanna, a former All India Tennis Association chief, had filed his nomination papers and was in the fray for the president's post along with International Hockey Federation president Narinder Batra at the time of deadline of withdrawal on December 3.
But in a surprise move, Khanna has decided to withdraw from the contest and support Batra for the president's post in its elective Annual General Body Meeting on December 14.
Khanna's decision to withdraw from the contest will clear the decks for Batra to be elected as the IOA president. His election for the top job will be a formality now.
Batra will thus become one of a few sports administrators who heads a National Olympic Committee while holding the post of president of an important international federation.
A top IOA official said since Khanna, who is the incumbent IOA treasurer, had not withdrawn his candidature by the stipulated deadline, technically the election for the president's post may be conducted but the members will be inclined to vote for Batra only under the secret ballot system.
Khanna said he was withdrawing his candidature to "keep the IOA family united". He expressed his decision to withdraw from the contest in a letter written on the letter head of AITA.
Khanna is a Life President of the AITA. He is currently the president of Asian Tennis Federation and vice-president of International Tennis Federation.
"IOA has been one family so far, and the election this year is creating division. Many (members) do not want a division as they enjoy a warm relationship with both sides and find themselves in a difficult situation to finally decide as to whom to vote for," Khanna said in the letter.
"In order to keep the IOA family united and to ensure that common friends are not put in a difficult situation while deciding who to vote for, I have decided to withdraw my candidature as president of IOA from the current election in favour of Narinder Dhruv Batra," he added.
He, however, said that he was initially not planning to contest elections and circumstances had led him to filing nomination papers for the post of president (as well as that of senior vice president).
Khanna said that the IOA under president N Ramachandran and Secretary General Rajeev Mehta has achieved milestones in the last nearly four years (office bearers took charge in February 2014) though it has "sometimes faced internal challenging moments".
"I must compliment both the president and the secretary general for improving the financial position of the IOA through sponsorship and better management of relations with the IOC and OCA. This has enabled the IOA to start sharing funds with both the NSFs and SOAs," he said.
"The contribution (of the IOA) has been raised from Rs 3 lakhs to Rs 6 lakhs last year and the Executive Council on 9th November 2017 has already approved payment of Rs 7 lakhs which can be increased by another Rs 2 lakhs depending upon sponsorship income." Meanwhile, incumbent secretary general Rajeev Mehta will be re-elected for his second four-year term as he was the lone candidate to have filed the nomination papers.
But there will be elections for one post of senior vice- president, one treasurer, eight vice-presidents, six joint secretaries and 10 Executive Council members.