Indian archery fiasco: AAI factions blame each other for current 'mess'

World Archery has served an ultimatum that the Indian federation will be suspended in case its internal issues are not resolved by the end of July.

B.V.P Rao, president of one of the AAI factions, squarely blamed the 'mess' on former AAI president Vijay Kumar Malhotra.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

The two parallelly elected bodies of the Archery Association India (AAI) Wednesday engaged in mudslinging after the World Archery (WA) de-listed the the national federation as a member.

The game's world body has served an ultimatum that the Indian federation will be suspended in case its internal issues are not resolved by the end of July. WA will wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict on the controversial elections of the AAI.

The decision to de-list AAI will not prevent Indian archers from taking part in international events under the national flag, in competitions for which entries have already been made.

WA had earlier tried to intervene by sending vice-president Kazi Rajib Uddin Ahmed Chapol as a “mediator” to ensure a unified election. The talks failed and both factions went ahead with separate but simultaneous elections in New Delhi and Chandigarh on June 9 to elect two presidents — Union Minister Arjun Munda and retired IAS officer BVP Rao.

Expressing wonder and displeasure over WA’s decision, secretary general of the Munda-led faction Virendra Sachdeva blamed the situation on the Rao-led group.

“A small group of people have unnecessarily started a controversy by claiming that they have conducted an election of the AAI. These individuals have created confusion among the member state Archery Associations and other world bodies with a view to defer the elections of the Association,” Sachdeva said.

“The Indian Olympic Association has recognised the elections held on June 9 at New Delhi. We are hopeful that World Archery would also recognise us sometime soon. A matter is pending in the Supreme Court and is likely to be listed on reopening of the Court after the summer vacation. We are awaiting the outcome of the matter and will proceed accordingly thereafter,” he added.

Rao, on the other hand, squarely blamed the ‘mess’ on former AAI president Vijay Kumar Malhotra and added that he has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in the matter.

“World Archery is fed up with postponements of elections for the last three years. The current crisis of two elections is also a plan of Malhotra to get get his henchman Virendra Sachdeva as secretary general unopposed,” he said.

“So the buck should stop at Malhotra’s door. I have written to the Prime Minister about it. I only hope the PM intervenes to resolve this crisis in the national interest. The sole reason for this mess is Malhotra’s intense desire to hold on to Indian Archery even after four decades, which delayed the election that was due in 2016.”

Union Minister of State (Independent) for Youth Affairs & Sports, Kiren Rijiju, interacts with Indian archery team at the Sports Authority of India, New Delhi.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT


Secretary general in the Rao-led faction, Maha Singh, demanded an enquiry by the Sports Ministry into the change of Indian entries by assistant secretary of the other faction Gunjan Abrol.

READ | Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju assures support for archers

“I am wondering who gave him the authority to change the Indian team entries. Let him explain to World Archery. I demand an enquiry by Ministry of Sports on this issue.

“If at the end of July there is no clear decision, World Archery will suspend AAI and will not allow any Indian athletes to participate at any world event including the Asian Archery Championships, an Olympic qualification event. The men’s team, who had missed the cut for Rio Olympics, has recently earned three available quota places for Tokyo 2020, while the women’s are yet to secure qualification,” he said.

Terming it a big blow for Indian archery, Lalremsanga Chhangte, a two-time Olympian from Mizoram, said: “We have already qualified for the Olympics and now if they suspend the federation then there will be a question mark on India’s participation. Hope better sense prevails and there will be one election.”

Dronacharya awardee and national archery observer Sanjeeva Singh said it will be sad chapter for Indian archery if AAI is suspended.

“Nation should be above sports and AAI-constituent state presidents and secretaries should realise that morally it is their duty to protect the sport of archery and archers and ensure elections in time as per the AAI Constitution in line with the National Sports Code & Olympic charter,” he said.

“The World Archery has taken a very balanced view of the situation of the sport in the country. They have given time,” Singh said.