More than two years after IOA elections, VP claims president Batra was not even eligible to contest

Two-and-a-half years after Narinder Batra’s election as Indian Olympic Association chief, one of its vice presidents has questioned his taking up the top job, saying he was not even eligible to contest the polls under the then constitution.

IOA vice president Sudhanshu Mittal, in a letter to the International hockey federation FIH, alleged that “a major cover up” was done to allow Batra contest election for the top sports job of the country.

Mittal said Batra’s eligibility was “falsified” twice and one even impacted his position as FIH president in 2017.

Mittal’s allegations on the “illegality” of Batra’s election have come amid the feud among the top brass of the IOA. He had earlier written to the International Olympic Committee, claiming that Batra was “illegally” elected as IOA president.

Batra on Monday had said that he will reply to Mittal’s allegations once he joins office after his home quarantine.

Mittal’s main allegation is that the IOA constitution of 2013, as approved by the IOC, provided that the presidential candidate will have to be a member of the preceding executive council and Batra was not a member of that.

He alleged that constitution’s interpretation was changed to membership of two preceding executive councils instead of only the last council in a Special General Body Meeting held on November 29, 2017.

It happened two days after the nomination of candidates was released to allow Batra contest the elections. Batra was elected IOA chief on December 14, 2017.

“It is very clear…that this decision to change the interpretation of the constitution of the IOA (in the SGM of Nov 29, 2017) to include any two preceding (2012 and 2014) Executive Council instead of preceding (2014) Executive Council was taken by the General Assembly after three people filed nomination for the post of president,” Mittal said in the letter.

“To be more specific, Batra was not eligible to contest for the post of president on the date of his filing of nomination, on or prior to 27/11/2017.”

He also said that the minutes of the SGM which mentioned a change in interpretation of the constitution was only approved on December 14, 2017.

“If the election had to be duly held in accordance with the changed interpretation of the constitution, the election notice should have been issued after 14/12/2017,” he wrote.

His another allegation is that Batra was nominated by Hockey India to the electoral college of the IOA for the 2017 polls despite the fact that he was no longer associated with it since he had already resigned as its president following his election as FIH chief.

Under IOA constitution, the person nominated by each member units must be the members of the executive bodies of these units.

“…Batra was either president of FIH in his personal capacity and did not represent Hockey India or he represented Hockey India as an Executive Board member to the electoral college of the IOA,” Mittal wrote in the letter.

“The president of international hockey federation who is responsible for integrity compromised it for self interest.”

Under FIH constitution, all members of the Executive Board (except for presidents of continental federations) hold office in their personal capacity and not as representatives of any member or any other organisation.