With the Union sports ministry keen to implement the Sports Bill, the acting president of the Indian Olympic Association, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, has complained to the International Olympic Committee that governmental interference will kill the autonomy of national sports federations in India.
Even as several top Indian sportspersons like Saina Nehwal, PT Usha, Jeev Milkha Singh and Vijender Singh have backed the Sports Bill, the federation bosses feel uncomfortable because their supremacy is now being threatened.
The Bill bring NSFs under the RTI ambit and limit the age and tenure of office-bearers. The Bill also proposes 25 per cent representation of sportspersons in the national federations. The Bill was the brainchild of former sports minister Ajay Maken.
Malhotra, a senior BJP leader, has been at the helm of the national archery federation for four decades. In November last year, the octogenarian Malhotra was reelected as Archery Association of India president for a record 40th year on-the-trot. The Sports Bill, when it is implemented, will mean Malhotra can no more stay in power.
In a letter to IOC president Jacques Rogge, Malhotra said the autonomy of NSFs "is in grave danger because of the intransigent attitude of the government." He sought directions from the IOC to end the present logjam so that Indian athletes can participate in International competitions under their own national flag.
Only last month, Indian boxers participated in the Asian youth championships in the Philippines under the international boxing federation banner.
Seeking a date to discuss the Union government's diktat, Malhotra wrote: "While we endorsed your move for a dialogue involving the government, it (sports ministry) has gone ahead and constituted a committee to re-draft the controversial Sports Bill, which is in total breach of the Olympic Charter."
Malhotra further added that "the government has not taken us into confidence on any count and has not shown any interest in respecting your directive to find a common ground to end this deadlock."
IOC is strictly against government interference in sporting matters. According to its Charter, the national Olympic federations have the sole authority to control events under the IOC.
In recent times, the IOC has declared the IOA elections as "null and void." The Sports Bill now threatens to make officials like Malhotra redundant.