It was a 'burden' to continue as HI chief: Stokes

Last Updated 27 October 2010, 14:47 IST

"I would not be able to take the burden of continuing as the president of Hockey India as it involves a lot of responsibility. I don't think I would be able to fulfil it to the best of my ability. I have conveyed it to the president of FIH (International Hockey Federation)," she told PTI.

Her surprise resignation is being widely interpreted as a move to appease the Sports Ministry, which had de-recognised HI for flouting its age guidelines. But, Stokes, who was elected as HI president by defying the government's age limit guidelines, said she decided to quit the post to concentrate on her political career.

"I have to travel a lot because of my political career and I cannot find any time. That is why I have decided to step down," said Stokes who won an acrimonious election in August against former captain Pargat Singh.

83-year-old Stokes' resignation was announced through a statement by HI, which claimed that the decision was in accordance with her commitment made to the Sports Minister to step down after the Commonwealth Games.

The HI statement said she had apprised the Sports Minister of her intentions to quit as early as February when she was serving as the interim president. "This is as per her commitment made to the Union Sports Minister at the inauguration of the High Altitude Synthetic Pitch at Shilaroo, Himachal Pradesh, in February this year," the statement said.

"Stokes had said then that she would step down as president only after the Commonwealth Games, as India was the host for these prestigious Games," the statement added.

Surprisingly, Stokes' promise to Sports Minister M S Gill to quit as early as February was never made public even during the time of the election. Asked about this, Stokes said, "I must clarify that no one told me to resign."

"I am going to China for 13-14 days and then I would be going to Europe for about seven days. I have been visiting my constituency also regularly, so it is not possible for me to spare so much time."

A Himachal Pradesh MLA, Stokes is an active member of Indian National Congress from 1970. Stokes said Secretary General Narinder Batra will discharge the additional work of HI president till necessary arrangements are made by the Hockey India Executive Board.

"I have handed over all the charge to Batra now. But I will always be available to my HI friends for any help that they would require in future. And I must add that I haven't left hockey completely," Stokes, who served as Indian Women's Hockey Federation chief from 1984, said.

(Published 27 October 2010, 14:47 IST)

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