A new regime, headed by legendary P T Usha, formally took control of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Saturday. She won unopposed in an election which was marred by allegations of rigging and government interference by the past office-bearers who were voted out of the power after ruling the country’s premier sports body for decades. The elections are subject to the Supreme Court’s approval.
Except for new treasurer Sahdev Yadav, who owes his allegiance to Lalit Bhanot camp, none of the elected office-bearers could say he or she belongs to former president Narinder Dhruv Batra or ex-secretary general Rajeev Mehta’s camp. But one thing can definitely be said – the newly-elected panel has every imprint of the ruling dispensation at the Centre.
According to sources, the names of seasoned BJP politicians such as Himanta Biswa Sarma, Arjun Munda and Dr Anil Jain did the rounds initially for the president’s post. After it was decided that a sportsperson has to be handed over the reins of a divided and faction-ridden IOA, the two names zeroed in were of multiple Asian Games gold medlast, sprinter Usha, and one of India’s most decorated badminton players and coach, Pullela Gopichand. Finally, the people running the sports administration in the country picked ‘Payolli Express’ as their unanimous choice.
IOA office-bearers: P T Usha (president), Ajay H Patel (senior VP), Gagan Narang & Raj Laxmi Singh Deo (VPs), Sahdev Yadav (treasurer), Kalyan Chaubey & Alaknanda Ashok (JSs), Amitabh Sharma, Bhupender Singh Bajwa, Lt Gen Harpal Singh, Rohit Rajpal, Dola Banerjee & Yogeshwar Dutt (ECs), M C Mary Kom & Achanta Sharath Kamal (athletes commission members).