NEW DELHI, April 25 (PTI): Pressure mounted on the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to elect a new president following the arrest of Suresh Kalmadi on CWG corruption charges even as the sports apex body planned to meet in a couple of days to take stock of the situation.
Sports Ministry fired the first salvo by asking the IOA to elect a new president while an organisation fighting to clean up sports said the arrest would help in kickstarting reforms in sports. A pall of gloom descended at the IOA Bhawan, the headquarters of the apex sports body, as the news broke out about Kalmadi�s arrest, but none of the officials were willing to give a reaction.
Kalmadi was today arrested by CBI for allegedly awarding a contract for the Commonwealth Games to a Swiss company at an inflated rate of Rs 141 crore in a �pre-meditated� manner.
IOA secretary general Randhir Singh is currently out of station and the meeting of the top brass will be scheduled only after his return in the next few days.
The Sports Ministry wants the IOA to elect a new president in place of Kalmadi as it feels a person who has been arrested or charge-sheeted should not head any organisation.
�The person who is in jail or who has been charge-sheeted, it would not be in the national interest that he should represent the country anymore. As soon as official confirmation of his arrest comes, we are going to request the IOA to elect someone,� Sports Minister Ajay Maken told reporters here.
IOA sources indicated that the Sports Ministry�s letter regarding a new president would come up for discussion when the IOA meets.
�Currently the secretary general (Randhir Singh) is out of town and we will take stock of the situation only when he returns. At the moment it is difficult to comment on how things will unfold, we have to wait and see,� IOA official said.
Terming Kalmadi as �symbol of corruption�, Clean Sports India (CSI), led by former hockey captain Pargat Singh, welcomed the his arrest and said his exit would help bring sports reforms in the country.
�The arrest is late but better late than never,� Pargat said.
�CSI looks at this development as an opportunity to kick start the reforms of Indian Sports Federations as Kalmadi was a stumbling block for any reforms,� he said.
The IOA has been left in a disarray with the arrest of Kalmadi who had considerable clout within the organisation. With his two trusted aides Lalit Bhanot and VK Verma also in jail in connection with the CWG scam, the leadership vacuum is felt even more.
Although there have been many officials within the IOA who have taken an anti-Kalmadi stand of late but the number has been far too less to be able to make a significant impact.
As per the IOA constitution, a person can be removed from his post with a two-third majority in the General Body.
In the absence of its president, senior vice-president Vijay Kumar Malhotra could chair IOA meetings which can be convened by the secretary general.
Malhotra is the seniormost official in the IOA and could be handed the responsibility as a stop-gap arrangement.
As per the IOA structure, there is only one senior vice president while there are as many as 12 vice-presidents which include politicians like J S Gehlot, Abhay Singh Chautala, Jagdish Tytler, Bhubneshwar Kalita and Tarlochan Singh among others.
Randhir Singh is the only general secretary and N Ramachandran the treasurer while there are six joint secretaries, including Bhanot. The executive committee comprises of 19 members. The idea of having a huge representation is to ensure that all the national federations are represented in the highest decision making body.