Just when one thought that the Archery Association of India elections would end the longstanding impasse in the sport, the world body added its name to that of the sports ministry and the Indian Olympic Association in the list of entities not happy with the way the polls were conducted last month.
In a letter to BVP Rao, elected president in the election held on December 22, World Archery secretary general Tom Dielen wrote that their main objection was that the constitution, according to which the polls were conducted, was “never formally approved” by the AAI General Body. He mentioned suspension of the Indian federation as one of the consequences.
“I regret to inform you that the World Archery Executive Board at this stage cannot accept the outcome of the General Assembly held on 22nd December and your election as president as well as the rest of the Board,” the letter said.
With a year and a half left for the Tokyo Olympics and qualification spots up for grabs in various events starting this year, this could be bad news for Indian archers, but Rao said the domestic competition schedule, including the national championships and trials scheduled for February and March, will be held as per plan.
The world body has asked for the complete details of the proceedings on election day and those in the Delhi High Court where the matter will come up next month. “We ask you to provide us the full minutes of the General Assembly (of December 22) for verification of the above matter before 25th January 2019. Following the receipt of the minutes the World Archery Executive Board will take a decision on the possible suspension of the Archery Association of India.”
“We have also been informed that this matter has been raised to the High Court which will decide on this in February. We ask you to inform us as soon as possible on the outcome,” it said.
As of now, the office-bearers elected on December 22 under the supervision of court-appointed administrator SY Quraishi will not be able to select teams for international competitions. The IOA had also written to the world archery body that it didn’t approve of the election and had not sent its observer. Apart from the new AAI constitution not being approved by its General Body, the IOA pointed out that it didn’t conform to the Sports Code.
Quraishi’s constitution borrowed heavily from the revised draft of the Sports Code and Justice Lodha’s recommendations for BCCI reforms.
Rao said he will do whatever he can for the archers, but added that the issue was not about him. “I can’t say much as it may affect the archers’ morale, but I will not let them suffer, and I’ll not put my ego ahead of their interest,” he told The Indian Express.
Rao, a former IAS officer and one of the architects of the Sports Authority of India’s Special Area Games scheme, was elected AAI president after BJP veteran Vijay Kumar Malhotra had been at the helm for over four decades. The federation was de-recognised by the government in 2012 as it did not conform to the age and tenure guidelines.
Rao said there was very little he could do other than complying with the instructions of the world body and asking the court for directions.
“I didn’t draft the constitution. The administrator was appointed by the court. I’m the product of the process, I didn’t create it. All these problems could have been avoided if elections would have been held by the previous regime in 2016 when they were originally due,” he said.
“I can only go to court and convey what WA has said. My hands are tied as the matter is sub-judice. People have gone to court with their objections.”