Former president of the Indian Hockey Federation KPS Gill on Wednesday wrote a letter to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal alleging that union finance minister Arun Jaitely “being the advisor of Hockey India League got his daughter appointed on the legal committee of Hockey India and she reportedly was paid huge sums.”
“What is urgently required to be probed is the conflict of interest that is being very much visible when you look at the list of office bearers and various committees of Hockey India and financial misappropriations of funds meant for hockey,” Gill wrote in his letter.
Hockey India president Narinder Batra dismissed these allegations saying that Jaitley’s daughter was only one of the many lawyers who represented Hockey India and was paid only about 2 per cent of the legal fees. Batra chose 1980s Lata Mangeshkar song “Choron ko saare nazar aate hai chor” to describe KPS Gill and Kirti Azad, who has raised allegations of misappropriation of funds by office-bearers when Jaitley was president of the DDCA. But that was the only poetic and light moment in a press conference where Batra lashed out against Gill and Azad, while defending himself and Jaitley.
Making allegations against Jaitley, Gill wrote that as a senior minister in the central government, Jaitley should either resign as a minister or from the advisory board of the Hockey India League.
Gills allegations came a day after the Delhi assembly passed a resolution on Tuesday to set up a one-man commission of inquiry to probe the alleged irregularities in the DDCA. “The time has come to act decisively and to take few steps to correct and to set the course for hockey on the right path and the urgency to rein in the Hockey India and to stop this Frankenstein Monster that will finish hockey in the country,” Gill wrote. Earlier in the day, Kejriwal tweeted, “There shud be no politician in any sports body. Let sports be handled by professionals.”
Batra refuted the charges that there was a conflict of interest because Jaitley’s daughter was a member of Hockey India’s legal committee. “We had approximately 22 cases against us across India and a couple abroad as well. We had employed 25 law firms and hers was one of them. I can’t recall the exact figure we paid them but it is not more than two percent of the total legal fees we have paid,” Batra said. “We trust them as lawyers and in these issues, people normal seek help of those who they trust. I don’t see how this constitutes as conflict of interest.”
Gill has also alleged that Hockey India have been pressurizing the Public Sector Units, mainly ONGC, to sponsor the sport, with Jaitley facilitating it. Batra denied the allegations, instead saying that they don’t even charge commission on government sponsorship, as against the standard 15 percent charges levied on private players. “Indian hockey would be nothing without these PSUs and we have been getting money from them even when Mr Manmohan Singh was the prime minister. We did not arm twist them. We deal with government units. ONGC, Indian Oil and the rest are deeply involved in running the game and it is because of their passion for it,” Batra said.
Asked about his relationship with Jaitley, Batra said it was ‘casual’. He added that the bills produced by Azad while claiming corruption at the DDCA are forged and were all lies. “I am as close to Kejriwal, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi… as I am to Jaitley. We come under RTI.” Batra also accused of Azad of demanding accepting bribes when he was the selector. “When the Cricket Improvement Committee was formed, Azad wanted that he, Bishan Singh Bedi and Madal Lal be paid Rs 30 lakh per annum while Surender Khanna and rest be paid Rs 20 lakh just so that they would keep their mouths shut. Azad was also a selector. “