International Hockey Federation chief Narinder Batra was on Thursday elected as president of Indian Olympic Association for a four-year term by an overwhelming majority in the polls held at its Annual General Meeting in New Delhi.
The 60-year-old Batra secured 142 votes while his rival Anil Khanna got 13 in a two-way contest in the polls held under the supervision of a three-member Election Commission, comprising an retired High Court justices. S K Mendiratta, a legal advisor to the Election Commission of India, was the returning officer.
Batra's election to the top post was on expected lines after Khanna, a former All India Tennis Association president, 'withdrew' from the contest in a surprised move. But there was an election for the president's post as Khanna sent the withdrawal letter to the IOA-appointed Election Commission after the stipulated deadline of December 3.
Incumbent Secretary General Rajeev Mehta was re-elected for his second term without any contest as he was the lone candidate for the post.
Batra thus has become one of the few sports administrators who heads an important international federation as well as a National Olympic Committee.
Meanwhile, Anandeshwar Pandey was elected as the treasurer after he defeated Rakesh Gupta by 113 to 37 votes. R K Anand defeated J S Gehlot by 96 votes to 35 for the post of the senior vice president.
The election results will, however, be subject to the final decision of the Delhi High Court that yesterday refused to stay the polls on a petition filed by lawyer Rahul Mehra.
Just after winning the election, Batra said that he would take a proposal to the government to host the 2032 Olympics, 2030 Asian Games and 2026 Commonwealth Games.
"I am yet to take over as the IOA President. But once I settle down, the IOA will take a proposal to the government to host the 2032 Olympics, 2030 Asiad and 2026 CWG. We should think big but hosting these Games depends on government as they will sanction the funds," he told a press conference.
"The IOA hopes to work with the government in a conducive atmosphere. We want to have a good relation with them but at the same time they will also have to draw the line (up to where it can go). The government has to understand that a sports body has an autonomy in its functioning. There's a thin line."
Batra said he would not want to comment on the order of the Delhi High Court, which has asked the IOA to follow the Sports Code.
"I will not want to answer any question relating to a matter which is pending in a court of law. But I don't know how IOA is not following the Sports Code. The Constitution of the IOA of 2013 was approved by the government, the IOC and the OCA. After that which changes in the Code was not accepted by the IOA, I don't know.
Asked about sporting relations with Pakistan, Batra said, "As far as multilateral events organised by the international federations are concerned, we have to play Pakistan. But I think it is not possible to play them in bilateral events unless the relations between the two countries are improved.
"Moreover their behaviour at the border will have to improve. Everybody in India is an Indian first."
When Batra was the president of Hockey India, there was an acrimonious incident between Indian and Hockey teams after a match at the 2014 Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar and he had stopped all bilateral matches between the two countries until Pakistan made an unconditional apology.
Asked about his priorities as IOA president, Batra said, "I want to work to improve the country's number of medals in Olympics and other Games, how to resolve the issues of the athletes, to bring improvement in the relationship with the government. We want to work with the government in a conducive atmosphere, they should try to know our views and we will also try to know their views so that we can work together.
"The IOA will work as a team. Rajeev Mehta is an experience hand and he is on his second term. The other members are also experienced. We will divide the duties and responsibilities among ourselves and will work as a team. There will not be one-man show."
He acknowledged that his predecessor N Ramachandran had also worked for the welfare of the athletes.
Talking about the provision of 25 per cent sportspersons in the Executive Council which is required under the Sports Code, he said, "As I understand the Sports Code is applied to the NSFs, and IOA is not mentioned in the Sports Code. The definition of the sportspersons will have to be elaborated. I believe sportsperson does not mean only those who have played for India. I am also a sportsperson.
"When we checked we found out that more than 60 per cent of people in the present Executive Council are sportspersons."
Mehta informed that the next National Games will be held in Goa next year from November 4-18.
"We have guidelines for the hosting of the National Games. We have made these guidelines stricter. The National Games will be held next year in Goa from November 4-1, it has been confirmed," Mehta said.
He said he had a good relation with the former president Ramachandran and hoped to have the same with Batra also.
President: Narinder Batra
Senior Vice-President: R K Anand
Vice-President: Addille Sumariwalla, Birendra Prasad Baishya, V D Nanavati, Sudhanshu Mittal, Sunaina Kumari, K Govindraj, Kuldeep Vats, Karan Chautala
Secretary General: Rajeev Mehta
Treasurer: Anandeshwar Pandey
Joint Secretary: S M Bali, Rakesh Gupta, Namdev Shirgaonkar, Onkar Singh, D V Sitaram Rao, Vikram Sisodia
Executive Council Members: Adhip Das, Ajit Banerjee, Balbir Singh Kushwah, Digvijay Singh, Dushyant Chautala, Gurudutta Bhakta, Hemochandra Singh, V N Prasood, Rupak Debroy, Abhijt Sarkar.
IMAGE: Narendra Batra
Photograph: Hero Hockey India League