Suresh Kalmadi (in pic) and Abhay Chautala were appointed life president of the Indian Olympic Association on Tuesday. Photograph:( AFP )
A defiant Indian Olympic Association (IOA) sought to brazen it out even as the clamour for a rollback grew louder today after the scam-tainted duo of Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala were elevated to life presidents of the sporting body.
The aftershocks of the IOA's decision, which was heavily criticised by sports minister Vijay Goel in a hurriedly-called press conference last night, became stronger in intensity today.
The IOA top brass could not be reached after the shocking move even as Chautala came out to defend himself by launching an attack on Goel.
However, that did little to douse the fire and Goel was joined by Ajay Maken, the sports minister in the previous government, who also criticised the move and called it "sad and painful."
"As a former sports minister and sports enthusiast, the IOA's decision to appoint Kalmadi and Chautala as life presidents of IOA is sad and very painful. This decision is not good for sports and India's image," Ajay Maken told the press today.
"I request the sports minister not only to convey his reservations but take strong actions to reverse the decision. All the national sports federations are funded by the sports ministry, so the government should exercise its full powers to reverse the decision. If they do so there is no reason the matter can't be resolved," he added.
Chautala, on the other hand, wondered what the fuss was all about, going to the extent of ridiculing Goel for expressing pain on his appointment.
"I was surprised by the reaction of sports minister Vijay Goel. He was claiming that there are criminal and corruption cases against me. The case against me is not a criminal case, it is a political case," a livid Chautala said.
"Mr Goel has failed in his responsibility as a sports minister. I would advise him to fulfil his responsibility as sports minister because if he does that, our medal count will increase manifold and he will get credit for that. Instead of getting into a controversy without knowing full facts, he should focus on his job," he added.
Chautala also said that he had done enough for Olympic sports in India to deserve the IOA life president's post.
Maken, meanwhile, also questioned BJP MP Anurag Thakur, BJP-ally Shiromoni Akali Dal MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and IOA sitting vice-president Tarlochan Singh for not opposing the appointments being a part of the AGM.
"Today when we are talking about eradicating corruption and graft from the country we are bringing back such tainted individuals. What is the message the IOA is giving?" he asked.
"Anurag Thakur, Dhindsa and Tarlochan Singh were all part of IOA Executive Committee and were there at the meeting yesterday. I request them all to take back the decision for the image of the country," Maken added.