Archery Association of India set to have two elections, two presidents

As the confusion over the Archery Association of India's presidential elections continue, Arjun Munda and BVP Rao – representing rival factions – are the frontrunners to emerge as the two presidents.

It remains to be seen whether the World Archery suspends AAI and bars the Indian team from competing under the national flag at the upcoming World Championships, as stated by the WA secretary general Tom Dielen. (Representative Image)   -  Getty Images

Turning a deaf ear to suspension threats from the world body, the Archery Association of India will go ahead with two separate simultaneous polls in New Delhi and Chandigarh on Sunday, which will lead to the election of two presidents in a bizarre scenario.

Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda and retired IAS officer BVP Rao, who held the AAI top post until the Supreme Court set aside his election last month, are set to be elected uncontested with their respective executive members in the two separate elections.

RELATED| IOA to send observer for archery elections in Delhi

It remains to be seen whether the World Archery (WA) suspends AAI and bars the Indian team from competing under the national flag at the upcoming World Championships, as stated by the WA secretary general Tom Dielen.

The Indian archery team begins its World Championships campaign on Tuesday, aiming to seal quota places for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Former Jharkhand chief minister Munda is in the fray in the elections to be held in New Delhi, while Rao is contesting in the polls in Chandigarh as the two factions of the AAI refused to come together despite a four-member World Archery team holding parleys on Friday, suggesting June 24 as a common election date.

“They (Sunil Sharma faction) are not agreeing to come together. Now, since the negotiation has failed, we have no option but to have elections in Chandigarh, which is correct and legal,” Rao told PTI on Saturday.

AAI secretary general Maha Singh, who is from the group led by Rao, claimed that they have got confirmation from 16 of the 31 state affiliated units.

RELATED| World Archery warns AAI of suspension

AAI acting president Sunil Sharma, who is believed to be from the faction supporting ex-president VK Malhotra, too claimed majority and said the elections in New Delhi would go as per the notification issued by him.

“They (Rao group) has got only a total of eight members, while we have 23. Their main objective was to derail us. We told them we have got the majority and there’s no question of stepping back. Our elections are very much on in New Delhi,” Sharma said.

Having warned AAI of immediate suspension if they go ahead with two elections, WA also tried to intervene and appointed its Asia first vice-president Kazi Rajib Uddin Ahmed Chapol as the “mediator“.

Chapol held a meeting with both the parties and the Indian Olympic Association but the talks failed, leading to two separate elections for the national federation.

Reacting to the development, a WA official said: “World Archery will receive the reports from both meetings, evaluate and then the executive board will decide next steps.”

Rao was elected AAI president on December 22 last year, bringing an end to Malhotra's tenure, who served as head of the national body for 40 years from 1973 to 2012 before being de-recognised by the government for not following the Sports Code.

RELATED| Another controversy in Archery Association, this time over elections

But he quit after the Supreme Court gave a ruling for fresh elections and set aside the AAI constitution as amended by Delhi High Court-appointed administrator S Y Quraishi.

Sharma was subsequently elevated to the top post on May 4 to start the process for fresh polls with a 10-member executive body. He first sent an election notice for May 26, which was later rejected on constitutional grounds by secretary Maha Singh.

Later, both the parties sent out separate election notices for the same June 9 date but in different venues. IOA President Narinder Batra intervened and had meetings with both the parties but a resolution eluded.

Speaking in Bengaluru, Batra reiterated his position of sending an observer to Delhi. “Of the 10 [Committee of Administrators] eight decided that Delhi was the venue. Two decided that Chandigarh was the venue. IOA is going with the majority because that happens to be the Supreme Court order. Which will be accepted and which will not be, I cannot say anything. But the athletes won’t be affected, even if there is a federation or not,” he said.

(With inputs from our Sports Reporter in Bengaluru)