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Lobbying, suspense ahead of IHF AGM
May 22, 2005 12:10 IST
A veil of suspense, hectic backroom lobbying and drama seem the key ingredients as the IHF holds its Annual General Body meeting and the elections on Monday in Kolkata, where hockey has a dwindling support base.
While the main interest ahead of the IHF AGM is focused on incumbent president K P S Gill's possible bid for the top job yet again, the national team's recent downward performance graph including the abysmal show in the Athens Olympics are issues which seem to have taken a backseat.
Though Gill and IHF secretary-general K Jothikumaran have declined to answer queries from the media about their likely candidature, sources close to the former Punjab super cop indicated that both of them would go for yet another term.
That Gill has advanced the AGM, is a strong statement that he wishes to contest, said a source.
"I don't see anyone other than Gill and Jothikumaran as president and secretary respectively," said another source close to the former Punjab Police DG.
Though Gill and Jothikumaran's candidature would be finally decided on Monday, the AGM is already robbed of some of its lustre with Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel unlikely to join in the race for the post of president.
While Gill arrived on Saturday, Jothikumaran and some of the other big guns reached the city this morning and immediately began consultations on the likely strategy.
A section in the IHF, opposed to Gill and Jothikumaran staying in power for more than two terms, would also take a decision on nominating their choice for the top posts only after ascertaining whether the two office-bearers would enter the poll fray.
Besides the president and secretary-general, eight vice-presidents, five joint-secretaries and a treasurer would be elected as office-bearers in the AGM.
The total number of votes is 40 -- including 36 state units and four institutional voters (Indian Airlines, Railways Services and Universities).
However, following a Delhi high court directive, the IHF would not be able to declare the results and has to keep the same in a sealed cover till further orders.
The choice of Kolkata as a venue for the high-profile AGM has come as a surprise, considering the lack of support for the game here in stark contrast to the craze for cricket and soccer.
The absence of a proper modern infrastructure has stymied the growth of hockey in the city, which once produced greats like Leslie Claudius, Keshav Dutt and Joginder Singh.
Despite running from pillar to post, the Bengal Hockey Association has failed to lay out an astro-turf on a ground of its choice due to bitter opposition from the soccer lobby.
Due to unavailability of grounds for the discipline, the Beighton Cup, the blue riband of Indian hockey, is being hosted for the last two years on one half of the CCFC ground, with a hundred odd spectators warming the makeshift stands.
Hockey buffs are hoping against hope that the AGM would be able to generate some interest for the game in the city.