CoA's "wish" to keep Manjit Dua away from prize-distribution ceremony - organiser

On May 31, the eve of the prize-distribution ceremony of the National cadet and sub-junior championship at Indore, Manjit was in for a rude shock when a deeply-anguished organiser informed him about the CoA’s “wish” to keep him away from the stage.

FILE PHOTO: Manji Dua, a hugely respected figure by a generation of table tennis lovers.   -  THE HINDU

Only the other day, soon after the Committee of Administrators (CoA) took over the charge of Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) on February 18, then Chief Coach Manjit Dua was warmly welcomed by the CoA Chairperson Geeta Mittal.

Aware of the Arjuna Awardee and three-time National champion’s stature and immense contribution to the game, the chairperson extended the courtesy he so richly deserved. For the next three months, the CoA used the services of Manjit to select the Indian team members, across age-groups, for various international tournaments.

Once the CoA invited suggestions from the state associations before making changes to the selection criteria and Manjit, as secretary of the Delhi Table Tennis Association, opposed them, things took a dramatic turn.

Soon, Manjit quit as the chief coach and national selector, after he was offered the post of an observer in the new selection committee.

But worse was to follow.

On May 31, the eve of the prize-distribution ceremony of the National cadet and sub-junior championship at Indore, Manjit was in for a rude shock when a deeply-anguished organiser informed him about the CoA's “wish” to keep him away from the stage.

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“I did not go to Indore to be seated on the stage. I have been associated with the game for 55 years. But to be told that it was better to remain in the hotel instead of coming to the venue for the final was very humiliating. Being an Arjuna Awardee, a former National champion and medallists at Asian and Commonwealth levels, I surely did not deserve to be treated with such disdain and contempt,” recalled the 67-year-old Manjit, hugely respected by a generation of table tennis lovers.

Enquiries made by Sportstar revealed that a member of CoA was of the view that no one associated with the suspended TTFI office-bearers should be seen on the stage as “it would send wrong signals".

Ironically, two office-bearers of the Madhya Pradesh Table Tennis Association - Om Soni and Jayesh Acharya - held the posts of Vice President and Joint Secretary in the TTFI. While the CoA was fine with their presence on the stage during the prize-distribution, they saw red if Manjit, who did not hold any post in the TTFI, was seated on the stage.

Similarly, during the national championship at Shillong, Mittal had no qualms in sharing the stage with TTFI's Vice President and organising secretary Chiranjib Choudhury.

Many took to social media on Friday to express their displeasure over the treatment meted out to Manjit and slammed the CoA for its shocking diktat.

When contacted, Acharya explained, “We have great respect for Manjit Ji. He is a legend. We have organised more than 100 national level events at Indore but never faced such an awkward situation. Our respect for Manjit Ji remains. We, as organisers, could only control the controllable.”

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