CHENNAI: Suddenly, even before the announcement of dates, there seems to be a lot of buzz surrounding the elections of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI). The sports ministry has given BFI time until December 31 to get it done and continue to get recognised. Yet, there have been exchanges of profiles of prospective candidates among officials of the state associations.
The name of a candidate for the president’s post, too, was in circulation a few days ago. BJP MLA from Mumbai's Bandra West, Ashish Shelar’s name was apparently sent to the boxing fraternity through various forms of messages. One or two members even claimed there have been conversations. A message in circulation read, Shelar is "past sports minister of one of the biggest states of India — Govt of Maharashtra; former president of Asia's biggest, one of the oldest successful... best-managed state Cricket Association — Mumbai CA..." If some officials are to be believed, he has got in touch with them over phone.
BFI secretary Jay Kowli did not say much, save that Shelar had expressed his intention. He would be contesting against president Ajay Singh, who according to some top BFI officials, held on to the reins with poise and aptitude. They pointed to the record figure of nine boxers having already qualified for the Olympics. Interestingly, the name of Shelar doing the rounds has changed the mood of the elections, from a routine one where all officials have completed one term, into a potentially heated affair.
If BFI insiders are to be believed, in the long run there might be a change. If not the president, it could be in the secretary and treasurer's posts. There are discussions that BFI treasurer Hemanta Kalita will be fielded for the secretary's post if Kowli contests. According to a BFI official, Kalita will be the frontrunner. However, there is another section that talks about the comeback of a former secretary of the federation.
Kowli, however, said he was not interested in any post. “I am for boxing and development of the sport,” he said.
“I am one of the founders of the federation. Idea was to put in place a stable federation for Indian boxers and boxing family. There is no personal ambition. I never asked for any post. If there is a better proposition, I will not shy away from stepping aside. I expect all boxing lovers to think about betterment of the sport and not individual preferences. Whatever we do, should be for the betterment of boxing.”
It’s a well-known secret that there have been differences within the team, especially between the president and the secretary since the previous elections. A section of the BFI feels, if Shelar has indeed agreed to contest, it would all depend on the BJP high command.
Senior BFI official Asit Banerjee felt Ajay Singh has done a lot for boxing but if someone wants to contest for president, he has to do better. "Shelar has to convince all members that he can do better," he said. But he felt it would be ideal if there is no election and they arrive at some kind of compromise. "It should be resolved with positivity," he said.
Whether or not there will be a change at the top, time will tell. There are indications that not all state units are convinced about Shelar as yet. But for the other office-bearer’s posts, there might be changes. As of now, Ajay Singh's team is not too concerned because of the good work he has done in the last four years.