In a dramatic development on Thursday, the Indian Olympic Association’s acting president V K Malhotra and IOC member in India Randhir Singh pulled out of next week’s crucial meeting with the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, apparently miffed with the world body's changed stance.
Barely six days before the May 15 meeting to find a way for India's return to the Olympic fold, the pull-out of these two key officials has suddenly put a question mark on the fate of the conclave which is to be attended by a delegation of the Sports Ministry also.
Malhotra and Randhir's decision to boycott the meeting came a day after the IOC agreed to include Hockey India General Secretary Narinder Batra and Jharkhand Olympic Association R K Anand in the IOA delegation for the meeting, in addition to the four-member list submitted earlier.
In a letter to IOC chief Jacques Rogge, Malhotra informed that he would be withdrawing himself since the world body has started interacting with the suspended IOA.
"As the IOC has changed the script for the Lausanne meeting, I want to inform you that I will not be attending the meeting and also hereby withdraw the letter I sent to you on May 3, 2013 naming my delegation," said Malhotra in the letter.
Malhotra had named a four-member delegation, to be led by him, for the joint meeting. The other members of the delegation he named were Tarlochan Singh, S Reghunathan and N Ramachandran.
However, it is learnt that the other members of the delegation will attend the meeting as per schedule.
Randhir also wrote to the IOC, expressing his inability to attend the meeting.
Asked why he was skipping the meeting, Randhir said, "It's an internal matter of the IOC. I will discuss it with the IOC president."
Although he did not specify the reason, it is apparent that Randhir is miffed by the IOC's invitation to Batra and Anand for the meeting, despite its earlier advisory to not interact with the suspended IOA members.
On Wednesday, the IOC had confirmed in a letter that Batra and Anand would be inducted for the joint meeting to be held among the representatives of the IOC, IOA and the Sports Ministry.
Malhotra, who is the only point of contact for the IOC after it suspended the IOA for conducting elections last December under the controversial Sports Code, said he was surprised by the world body changing its stance by allowing a couple of names recommended by the banned Chautala-led dispensation.
"It was IOC which invited me along with a small delegation for the meeting at Lausanne for discussion to end the deadlock. But it is intriguing that IOC has on its own added couple of names in the delegation recommended by the newly-elected but suspended IOA," he said.
"That means that that IOC has changed its stand and recognised the office-bearers of the IOA, which it had suspended, by directly dealing with them," he added.
A miffed Malhotra accused the IOC of taking a contradictory approach in the whole issue which, he said, has created confusion.
"... several communications kept us reminding that IOC does not and will not recognise the (December 5) elections. Elections are null and void and so called elected office bearers have no legitimate claim to represent the IOA. IOC also held the view that it will never accept Government's interference in the affairs of the NOC," he said.
"However to our surprise the IOC started dealing directly with the Government despite our repeated reminders to it that the Sports Ministry, Government of India is forcing the NSFs to accept the Sports Code," Malhotra said.
"A letter was also sent to all the International Federations concerned to ensure that their respective national federations had no dealings with these 'illegitimate leaders' of the suspended NOC and did not take part in any meetings they might hold. The contradictory stand taken by the IOC has created more confusion," he said.
In a sarcastic vein, Malhotra also asked the IOC to withdraw all the communication the world body has been sending to him since the IOA was banned on December 4 last.
"I am happy with this development and urge the IOC to withdraw all the communications, letters it has written against the IOA since December 5th, 2012. I also urge the IOC to withdraw its directive to the IFs to see that NSFs of India do not deal with the suspended IOA," he added.
Image: V K Malhotra