The fight within the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has been brewing for a while and there is enough indication that all is not well. A letter signed by treasurer Anil Khanna to president N Ramachandran and secretary general Rajeev Mehta indicates elected members of IOA cease to exist after March 26/31. In other words, there will be no office-bearers after March 31.
There has been much speculation over the tenure of the current president and elected members of the IOA. The president tried to clarify with a letter from the International Olympic Council (IOC) that said his was a normal term for a period of four years, as against the IOA’s constitution that talks of a tenure of four years between two Olympics.
However, the letter dated March 20 and signed by Khanna says, “The house decided on 26/12/16 that the Executive Committee has no power to extend its own term and the AGM needs to take a view of on this subject. On a proposal moved by a vice president, it was resolved by the AGM that a committee is formed to examine this matter and in the meantime, the term of the current EC may be extended by three months ie 26/31 March 2017.”
Interestingly, the EC referred to by Khanna held a meeting a month before the AGM. Khanna too was present when Ramachandran circulated the IOC letter that suggested the normal term for national Olympic body officials is four years, without mentioning the Olympic-to-Olympic part.
Khanna’s letter clearly states that if the EC fails to extend its tenure, office-bearers of IOA will cease to exist and the president, secretary general and treasurer will not be able to take any administrative or financial decision. Khanna even says that all payments should be made before March 31.
This has taken Ramachandran by surprise. There have been signs of fissure within the IOA, but this is the first time that an issue such as this one has come out in the open. “I am not threatening anyone. All I am saying is that we should follow our constitution,” said Khanna.
“The AGM had decided to give us a three-month extension and we should stick to it. If we need further extension, we should seek. That’s all. We have an amiable president and secretary general but we have to follow the constitution.”
The president refused to be drawn into the debate. But it is understood some kind of discussion did transpire at the AGM and that he is apparently convinced that this EC will continue. According to sources, Ramachandran has already replied to Khanna’s letter, asking him to not confuse others with his views. It is also understood the minutes have not been written so far.
The president is expected to follow the IOC charter and IOA constitution. Whether or not he survives, one thing is sure. After many sabre-rattling members have started voicing displeasure, there is a clear divide.
If elections do take place, there will be no shortage of names, including Khanna’s. All-powerful former secretary-general Lalit Bhanot still has numbers. Knowing Ramachandran’s ability to wade out of controversies, this could be just another blip.