The AITA Executive Committee will not ask President Anil Khanna to resign despite him wanting to relinquish the post as it would be perceived as succumbing to pressure from the government, Secretary General Bharat Oza said. Khanna had recently written to the Executive Committee members that he was willing to step down after government threatened to de-recognise AITA asking the sports body to re-elect a new President.
“This is President’s view that he wants to step down but we feel he should continue. If he does so, it will be seen as a step taken under pressure from Sports Ministry which is not the case at all,” Oza, who is also an EC member, told PTI on the sidelines of Pune Challenger here.
The next EC meeting is on November 5. It may be noted that even if Khanna eventually decides to step down, it can be done only at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) since EC is only an advisory body. “We have followed the guidelines and there is no violation at all. The interpretation of the sports code is debatable. Nowhere it says that the cooling-off period applies on becoming President after serving two terms as Secretary.
You can’t seek re—election as Secretary for third term but there is no bar on becoming President, so where is the violation,” Oza said. “The government cannot single out one or two federations to impose a rule when there is no clarity,” he added.
Khanna was elected AITA President for a four-year term (2012-2016) after serving as AITA Secretary General for two consecutive terms. His term ends in about eight months. According to the ministry, the spirit of the Sports Code has to be followed but Oza said it was debatable.
“Look they know what our constitution says. They had approved his election in 2013 after we amended our constitution and now they want him to go. We can’t remove our President if some people want him to go,” he said. The Secretary General said if the government wants AITA to further amend constitution, they have to give it in writing.
“We are willing to make those changes. But we will go to IOA and if IOA also accepts those changes, then we can have elections according to new rules. We have to see the IOC role as well. If we remove Mr Khanna, then it will be seen as government interference which IOC does not accept,” Oza said.
Another Executive member said AITA can get a stay order from the court if Khanna is removed and by the time the matter would settle, his term would be over. Anil Dhupar, who is also an EC member and Secretary of Madhya Pradesh Tennis Association, said the government has taken a wrong action. “It’s wrong. Instead they should understand that with Mr Khanna’s stature in world tennis, they can work together to help Indian tennis,” he said.
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