One is a BJP leader who, according to his 2014 election affidavit, has been charged in numerous criminal cases, including attempt to murder and dacoity. The other is a sports administrator probed by multiple agencies, including the CBI, for his alleged role in the 2010 Commonwealth Games scandal.
Last week, the two were named by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) as leaders of the country’s Asian Games contingent.
Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, an MP from Kaiserganj in UP, has been appointed Chef de Mission of India’s 541-strong team for the August 18 to September 2 event in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang.
One of the four deputies assigned to Singh is Rajkumar Sacheti, a close aide of disgraced former IOA president Suresh Kalmadi. The Central Vigilance Committee (CVC) had accused Sacheti of misusing his position as joint director general during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The appointments follow the IOA’s decision to name its former secretary general Lalit Bhanot as chairman of the preparation committee for the Asian Games. Bhanot spent almost a year in jail after the CBI named him as one of the prime accused in the CWG scandal.
Singh is one of the several politicians who occupy the chair of national federations. He has been the president of the Wrestling Federation of India since 2012.
He is also named as one of the accused in the Babri Masjid case, which is now being tried jointly in a Lucknow court along with another case related to the demolition in Rae Bareli following directions from the Supreme Court last year.
In his election affidavit, he has admitted to having been charged under various IPC sections, including 147, 148 (rioting) and 307 (attempt to murder).
Sacheti, meanwhile, is Kalmadi’s former personal private secretary. He started as a clerk in the Railways. After the 2010 Commonwealth Games were awarded to India, he was named as the joint director general. The CVC cited “irregularity” in his appointment to this important post and it was investigated by the CBI. He is now the executive director of Boxing Federation of India and an associate joint secretary of the IOA.
Asked by The Indian Express if the IOA has laid down any criteria for appointing these officials, the association’s secretary general Rajeev Mehta declined comment. The Olympic body’s president Narinder Batra was not available for comment. Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Sports Secretary Rahul Bhatnagar did not respond to text messages from The Indian Express seeking comment on these appointments.
Chef de Mission is the most important member of a contingent for a multi-discipline event and is responsible for ensuring the welfare of the athletes and liaising with the organising committee, among other duties.
Speaking to The Indian Express on condition of anonymity, a senior IOA official said they did not see anything wrong in the appointment of Singh or Sacheti. “If the government has no problem in Brij Bhushan holding posts in national federations despite his past records, why shouldn’t we name him as Chef de Mission?” the official said.