Government orders cancellation of AICF GBM

In a dramatic development, the Sports Ministry suggested cancellation of All India Chess Federation’s Urgent Meeting of the General Body scheduled in Chennai.

AICF president P. R. Venketrama Raja (in picture) and secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan have been at loggerheads over various issues.   -  Bijoy Ghosh

In a dramatic development, the Sports Ministry suggested cancellation of All India Chess Federation’s Urgent Meeting of the General Body scheduled in Chennai on Saturday.

It also asserted that non-compliance of the directive would invite “suspension/der-recognition of the federation.”

The meeting was called by AICF president P. R. Venketrama Raja through a letter dated December 7. The latest twist in the crisis came after the AICF secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan made a representation to the Sports Ministry on Thursday.

Raja called the meeting after cancelling Chauhan’s notice for the Central Council meeting, slated on December 22 in Gurugram.

READ| AICF president and secretary call separate general body meetings

On Friday, the Ministry’s letter addressed to AICF president and signed by Deputy Secretary S. P. S. Tomar, stated: “It has been observed that a meeting has been called by the President on 14.12.2019 and that by the Hon. Secretary on 22.12.2019 with almost the same agenda.

“As the matter relating to financial irregularities in the conduct of national championship and forged signatures are to be discussed, the Ministry will depute an observer for the meeting. The meeting proposed to be convened by the President, AICF, on 14.12.2019 may be cancelled and the meeting may be held on 22.12.2019 as scheduled by Hon. Secretary, AICF, so that the Government observer can attend the meeting.

READ| All India Chess Federation confrontation comes to a boil

Prior warning

The letter ends with a warning, “In case, the directions of the Ministry are not complied with and there is an attempt to suppress the complaints regarding financial irregularities, the Government will take a serious view in the matter, warranting action for suspension/de-recognition of the federation by the Ministry.”

When contacted by Sportstar, Chauhan explained, “In my representation, I had submitted copies my letters to the AICF President where I had repeatedly highlighted the wrongdoings of a couple of AICF office-bearers. Even when I blew the whistle on an act of forgery – a matter that the Sports Authority of India took cognizance of – and the financial irregularities in the 2018 National sub-junior chess championship in Kalyani, near Kolkata, the president and his coterie chose to ignore them.”

About the now uncertain Saturday’s meeting, Chauhan revealed, “20 out of 32 affiliates of AICF, besides six out of 12 office bearers had sent postal votes on the matters in the agenda.”

Interestingly, 12 Grandmasters, nine International Masters and three Woman Grandmasters wrote to the Secretary, Sports Ministry, with a request to “intervene and put to rest the prevailing infighting and confusion preventing any ensuing litigation.”