Pune: Commonwealth Games scam-tainted Suresh Kalmadi is set to preside over a crucial two-day Congress of the Asian Athletics Association starting in Pune on Sunday, which will also vote on his re-election bid as president of the continental body.
Kalmadi, who seeking his fourth term as head of the AAA, will be locked in a straight fight against Qatar Athletics Federation President Dahlan Jumaan Al-Hamad, who is also senior vice-president of the Asian body, on the last day of the Congress on July 1.
The biennial Congress, which begins three days before the July 3-7 Asian Athletics Championships at a five-star hotel here, will also be attended by IAAF President Lamine Diack, besides some top officials from the AAA and the world body.
The Congress, which is the governing body of the association, consists of a Council and not more than two delegates from each member of the AAA. However, each member country will have only one vote in the elections.
The Athletics Federation of India is likely to be represented by its president Adille Sumariwala and secretary C K Valson.
"The Congress which is normally held before the start of the biennial Asian Championships will discuss mostly routine matters like the progress reports of the last two years, the competitions held and financial matters," an AAA functionary told PTI.
The other members of the AAA Council - a Senior Vice-President, Five Vice-Presidents and eight Executive Members - will also be elected.
The Secretary-Treasurer is appointed by the incoming president and it will have to be seen whether the incumberent - Maurice Nicholas of Singapore who has been holding the post for the last 40 years since the inception of AAA - will continue or not.
Kalmadi, who was jailed and later released on bail in connection with the Commonwealth Games scam, has been at the helm of affairs of the AAA since 2000. Though he has decided not to hold any sports post in the country, he is seeking re-election for the top job of the continental body.
Ironically, though, he will not be involved in any way in the conduct of the Asian Championships which is being held in his home town which he is representing in the Parliament.
Kalmadi's candidature has got the backing of the AFI which said it did not want to lose a seat in AAA Council.
"The AFI has forwarded the name of Kalmadi. It was the decision taken in the 2008 general body that if the IAAF allows his nomination, we should have no objection in sending his nomination," said Sumariwalla.
"We didn't want to lose one seat there and that is basically the reason. Since there was no conviction against him, the IAAF recognises him, and if they are ready and happy to have his nomination then we should have no objection. They have no objection in him continuing as the president of the AAA."
Section 4(a) of Article VI of the AAA Constitution says: "A council members loses his membership in the council if he loses his membership in his National Association, unless otherwise his national association formally recommends the continuation of his membership in the Council."
Kalmadi camp is confident that he will be re-elected though it appears to be heading towards a tough fight.
"He is seeking re-election and is confident of winning the poll on the back of several new initiatives in Asian Athletics in the last 13 years," an AFI official said.
"Before 2000, there were only two competitions in Asia - Asian Junior and Senior Championships - but now we have a host of other events in a calender year like the Asian Grand Prix, Asian All Star, Asian Race Walk and Asian Marathon. We are hoping to get majority vote out of the 45 member countries," he added.