The government on Wednesday issued an ultimatum to Hockey India [ Images ] and the Indian Hockey Federation to merge by July 25, failing which the Sports Ministry will take a decision and intimate the Supreme Court about it.
"I will not wait beyond July 25. We have called for a meeting with HI and IHF on July 25. A decision would certainly come out by then," Sports Minister Ajay Maken [ Images ] told a press conference in Delhi [ Images ] on Wednesday.
"We are calling the two bodies to give it a last try on merger, but this will be the last meeting. If nothing comes out of it then we will take a decision on our own and inform the Supreme Court," he said.
Asked the reason why the last merger talks failed, Maken replied: "I was really hopeful that the merger would be successful. Unfortunately, it seems that inflated egos have taken over the national interest and the national game," said Maken.
The merger talks between HI and IHF fell apart last week, following a series of meetings in the presence of sports ministry officials.
Maken informed that the ministry is giving the two warring bodies a last chance after IHF president R K Shetty had spoken and written to the ministry again to discuss some of the finer points.
"On Saturday Mr R K Shetty talked to joint-secretary (sports) Injeti Srinivas and myself. He has also written a lengthy email to secretary, joint-secretary and myself, where he has said that he would like to come again and discuss some finer points. He is also hopeful that we will be able to achieve what we wanted as far as good relations between the two warring bodies are concerned," he said.
"So we will give it a last try, since Shetty has himself written to us. But this will be the last time. We really want both HI and IHF to come together. We have given them enough opportunities, perhaps never in the past has the sports ministry played such a proactive role," Maken explained.
Incidentally, the merger talks that seemed to be heading towards a positive conclusion since the start of the meetings, eventually hit a roadblock with the IHF coming up with some new demands at the last minute.
Maken said that there is no reason why the warring bodies should not agree to the merger, as all the concerns are almost taken care of.
"We don't have differences in many aspects. We will continue with the talks. Sometimes it happens that egos clash, but there is nothing much beyond that. We have talked about KPS Gill being made the lifetime patron, R K Shetty to be made the senior vice-president and have equal number of representatives from both the sides," he said.
"We have also said that the states which have more presence of IHF will be given importance. Even the issue of the name for the new body has been sorted out.
"No major differences have emerged. I am sure we would be able to sort out the issue. So I see no major reason why merger cannot take place," said Maken.