IOA appoints BFI Chief Govindraj to observe Rowing Federation of India's elections
What's the story?
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has appointed the K Govindraj, the President of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI), as the observer for the Rowing Federation of India's (RFI) elections that are slated to be held on 22nd February in Hyderabad.
Earlier, the Rowing Federation of India (RFI) had been de-recognized by the Sports Ministry owing to the violations during the elections conducted in December last year. During these elections in Hyderabad, Rajlakshmi Singh Deo had been elected as President while MV Sriram was chosen as the General Secretary.
However, the December 2019 elections were not in accordance with the Sports Code of 2011. There were violations such as proxy voting being allowed and only 18 State/Union territories participating in the elections whereas the Sports Code mentions that a minimum of 25 State/UTs must be present as their affiliate members. As a result of this, the Ministry had called upon the IOA to set up an ad-hoc committee to discharge the functions of the RFI.
The heart of the matter
Narinder Batra, the President of the IOA, confirmed the appointment of the BFI President with a written letter to him. Here are few of the excerpts:
"To our telephonic discussion and your confirmation we are pleased to appoint you as IOA observer for elections of the Rowing Federation of India on 22nd February 2020 and will request you to submit your report to IOA after the elections," the IOA President stated in the letter.
Rajlakshmi Singh Deo, the RFI President, was also marked a copy of this letter. Batra also mentioned that Govindraj can directly get in touch with Rajlakshmi and approach the IOA office for any logistical arrangements.
Earlier, Rajeev Mehta, the IOA General Secretary, had confirmed of 'unilaterally deciding to cease the election process.' Batra has now taken a dig at this by appointing the BFI Chief to act as the observer.
In a letter to Mehta, Batra had stated (as per PTI):
"You (Mehta) had confirmed to me on phone that you will meet me to discuss on the RFI issue, Ethics Committee term issue and Kerala issue since I had raised my objections. But since you have not come to meet me and 11th February, 2020 is the last date for nomination, your unilateral decision to cease the RFI election process with immediate effect is not acceptable to me and I am overruling the decision."
The IOA President also stated in the letter that the RFI is now free to conduct their elections in accordance with the declared schedule.
The IOA should not be seen interfering in RFI's autonomy now that Batra has appointed an observer and scheduled dates for the new elections. It remains to be seen if the elections are conducted smoothly this time around with zero Sport Code violations. It will be great if there are no roadblocks as the Indian Rowers will be needing the full support of RFI ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2020.Published 12 Feb 2020, 12:57 IST