CHENNAI: Newly-formed Boxing Federation of India is finally getting its act together to conduct a much-anticipated election on September 25 in Mumbai.
The last day of nominations saw hectic parley between candidates fighting for the president’s post, and dramatic last-minute withdrawals. For now, the tussle for the top post sees a two-way contest between Ajay Singh, chairman of SpiceJet, and Rohit Jain, with the latter favourite to win.
Going by things, the fight will be a one-sided affair, but the interesting bit will be the contest for secretary’s post. Former joint secretary of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation, Rakesh Thakran, has withdrawn from the race for president, and has entered the secretary’s fight against former Boxing India secretary Jay Kowli, who is favourite this time too.
If boxing officials are to be believed, Thakran’s entry will not be eyed gleefully by Kowli and Co. However, until late on Monday, Kowli was favourite, though a section of Thakran’s party believes he is being backed by strong Indian Olympic Association officials.
Apparently, Thakran backed out from the race for president’s post after Ajay Singh started getting more support. He had contested for secretary’s post two years ago as well, but managed to get only three-four votes. Lenny de Gamma is the third candidate to contest. If it’s a three-way contest, Kowli will stand to gain. However, between Thakran and Kowli, the boxing fraternity is expecting a close fight.
Jain, a favourite to become president a week ago, has not given up hope. “I'm not withdrawing, and will contest elections,” he told Express. “If I lose, I'll continue working as member. I've been working for the sport’s development and will continue to do so.”
There will be contests in two zones for the post of VPs – North and West. According to sources, De Gamma is also contesting for the post of VP from West Zone. While in the North, it’s CK Jairath (Rohit Jain) vs Rajesh Bhandari (Ajay Singh’s camp).
According to Asit Banerjee, the chief of executive board of BFI, everything is on course for smooth conduct of elections.
IOA still a sticky issue
An interesting part is entry of Ajay Singh last week. It has been learnt that this was possible through Uttarakhand unit of the boxing federation, and there have been whispers that even the IOA secretary is backing him because he is from Uttarakhand. However, when asked, Rajeev Mehta didn't disclose anything, saying boxing matters should be discussed with IOA president. Though a letter has been sent to the body on elections, no decision has been made regarding sending an observer.