New Delhi, Aug 6, IANS: Hockey India (HI) secretary general Narinder Batra Friday alleged that the sports ministry had put a lot of pressure on HI to make Pargat Singh president and saw the defeat of former India captain at the hands of Vidya Stokes as the reasons for Thursday night's decision to de-recognise the new body.
"There was a lot of pressure on HI to make Pargat the president. I can't understand why should the ministry have interest in any candidate.
"Moreover, how did the ministry come to know the result when officially we did not announce it as the Supreme Court had asked us not to declare the result till it disposed off the court cases before it. I would like to ask the sports minister how did the ministry have the result, did they get it from Pargat?
"The matter is sub-judice and the next hearing in Supreme Court is August 19 when all issues will be taken up. What was the hurry in sending us a letter after 10 in the night informing that HI has been derecognised," Batra told IANS.
The sports ministry late Thursday derecognised HI, hours after Vidya Stokes and Batra were elected its president and secretary general, respectively.
Batra was critical of Gill's role in the HI election.
"When he should have kept away from the election he showed undue interest. The minister has behaved as if he is above law and the apex court."
The ministry has withdrawn HI's recognition following its refusal to adopt the government guidelines, particularly the key clauses on age-limit and tenure restriction. The ministry also said that the K.P.S Gill-led Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) is ready to follow the guidelines and it has initiated the merger process with the Indian Women's Hockey Federation (IWHF).
The sports ministry had shot off a letter to HI asking for clarification on its submission before the court that it is a private body.
"We have always maintained that we are an autonomous and independent body under the registration of societies act and HI is not a creation under the statute or any act of government. It is the sports ministry which kept on changing its stance in the court with regard to our status," Batra said.
Batra also wondered why the ministry waited till after the election to withdraw the provisional recognition.
"When it asked us to follow the age guidelines, we wrote to the ministry July 23 that we will hold the election as per own constitution. So why did the ministry not act then. Come to think of it," Batra said, "M.S. Gill himself is in mid-70s and is talking of age-limit."
Batra said HI will have to seek help from the states to pool in money to run the game. "If the central government will not provide us with financial assistance, we will have to ask for help from the states to run the sport."
International Hockey Federation (FIH) vice president Antonio Von Ondarza, who was here to oversee the election Thursday, made no bones about the world body's stand on the issue.
"The Olympic Charter is clear, the National Olympic Committee is the sole governing body of sports. We want to have the government on board but instead of imposing the guidelines, it should leave to HI to decide," Ondarza told reporters Thursday.
Ondarza was quick to add that FIH itself will soon follow International Olympic Committee guidelines on age-limit as it has already adopted the tenure limit for officials.
On the status of IHF, Ondarza said the international federation's stance is clear. "We have derecognised it way back in 2000."