IOA Elections: Rajnath Singh’s son may contest against Narinder Batra | More sports News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Indian Olympic Association‘s (IOA) upcoming elections have taken an interesting turn. Just days ago, incumbent Narinder Batra seemed to on course for another stint as the president of the body.
However, sources have revealed that Union defence minister Rajnath Singh‘s son and MLA from Noida, Pankaj Singh, could also contest for the IOA’s president post, provided he receives assurances from the political corridors of the ruling dispensation. He is also BJP’s general secretary for Uttar Pradesh.
Pankaj is the president of the Fencing Association of India (FAI), which has Batra’s nemesis Rajeev Mehta as its secretary general. FAI is the ‘member’ national sports federation (NSF) of the IOA.
Pankaj was elected unopposed as the president of the fencing body in August this year. It’s been learnt that two top serving union ministers have backed his candidature after Mehta approached them with the idea. Mehta himself has become ineligible to run for the secretary general post for the third successive term due to the ‘tenure’ clause in the national sports code. Mehta will have to undergo a cooling-off period of four years.
His only option to remain relevant in the IOA’s functioning is to contest for the president’s post against Batra. Mehta knows well that he stands no chance against Batra who has recently travelled extensively to different Indian cities to meet officials of the state Olympic associations. The equation has changed in the last couple of weeks. The possibility of Pankaj entering the fray – and the court case filed by lawyer and sports activist Rahul Mehra against the elections – has left Batra & Co. on a tricky wicket.
The situation is also not completely in Pankaj’s favour. For him to become eligible for the presidency, one restrictive clause in the IOA’s ‘Memorandum and Rules and Regulations’ must be done away with. The contentious clause 11.1.3 reads: “It shall be a mandatory requirement for elections to the Posts of President and Secretary General that only those members, who had held the office and were elected members in any of the preceding five Executive Council of the IOA, shall be eligible to contest the elections.”
Mehra has filed a petition in Delhi High Court, challenging the conduct of the IOA elections on December 19 in Guwahati. Both counsels representing the Union of India (UOI) and Mehta’s camp have supported the withdrawal of clause11.1.3 to make even the IOA’s General House members eligible to contest the elections.
The issue was highlighted before the two-judge bench of Justices Manmohan and Najmi Waziri, which in its November 30 order directed an interim stay on the IOA’s elections after Mehra contended that the electoral process is “wholly illegal and unsustainable”, violating the national sports code. The court has since then maintained status quo (stay) on the elections and has posted the matter for hearing and final order on December 15. Surprisingly, there are two factions representing the IOA belonging to Batra and Mehta in the court.
In this backdrop, a letter jointly signed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) officials has emerged, citing “government interference”. It’s no surprise that the letter has come barely two days after Batra’s meeting with Raja Randhir Singh, who is the acting president of the OCA. Delaying the elections would buy Batra some time to reach an agreement with the government for backing his candidacy.
The IOC and OCA have advised the IOA to reschedule its elections in view of the pending case in the court but has urged the body to go ahead with its Annual General Meeting (AGM). The letter has also made it clear that any amendments to the constitution should follow the due process and then submitted to the IOC for prior approval.

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