Indian carrom in limbo

Except for competing in the World Championship in Birmingham and another international event in Maldives, Indian carrom has been completely frozen, which has affected thousands of players across the country.

Representative image.   -  M. SAMRAJ

A prolonged legal battle has left Indian carrom in limbo for more than a year and a half.

Except for competing in the World Championship in Birmingham and another international event in Maldives, Indian carrom has been completely frozen, which has affected thousands of players across the country.

The Union Sports Ministry, unilaterally, had derecognised the national carrom federation, after declaring its election invalid, with a letter dated February 4, 2016, alleging that it had not followed the Sports Code in holding its election on November 29, 2015.

It was clearly mentioned that the order was being issued with the approval of the Union Sports Minister. The then sports minister, Sarbanand Sonowal, of the Bharatiya Janata Party, went on to become the Chief Minister of Assam. The then elected president of the Indian Carrom Federation was a long-standing minister of the Congress government in Assam, Rakibul Hussain.

Carrom was unwittingly caught in the crossfire between political parties.

However, in a subsequent affidavit, the government changed its argument and said that it was a dispute between two factions.

The court had directed the government to study the subject and present a report on May 18, 2016. The report, albeit prepared within the directed time frame, has not been presented to the court.

"The grounds stated in the Department of Sports letter dated 4.2.2016 for considering the All India Carrom Federation’s elections held on 29.11.2015 at Guwahati as not being held in a fair and transparent manner seem to be untenable and incorrect’’, the report had categorically stated.

Meanwhile, the International Carrom Federation said that it had no qualms in recognising India's newly elected body, and had rejected any attempts by other agencies to deal with it directly, especially for ensuring the Indian entries for the World Championship.

It will be interesting to see how the international federation responds to the latest court order that has appointed an ad hoc committee, with a government official as chairman, two former players, the petitioner and a member from the other faction, who has not challenged the election result.

Once the government has observed, after a thorough investigation, that it was at fault and that questioning the validity of the federation's election was incorrect, the question of a rival faction does not arise.