Ministry asks HI, IHF to merge

Govt gives three-day ultimatum

The government took the decision after a meeting of Sports Minister Ajay Maken with office-bearers of both HI and IHF to work out an amicable solution to the long-standing feud between the two bodies over recognition and power-sharing.

“We have given a balanced proposal to HI and IHF with equal importance to both federations. We have given them time till Tuesday evening to send their response in writing. We have told them to give us a joint response instead of separate ones,” Maken told reporters after the meeting here.

“If they don’t agree, we will take action and also inform the Supreme Court as the matter is sub-judice,” he said.

The government’s warning could be seen as an infringement on the autonomy of NSFs, but Maken said if forced, his ministry would have to take action in the larger interest of the game. “We are not taking sides. The government action would be in the larger interests of the game and in the larger interests of the country,” he insisted.

In its proposal, the ministry has asked HI to increase its executive board strength and include all the current IHF office-bearers in it.

The ministry has also asked HI to make former IHF president KPS Gill the life-time chief patron with voting rights and said post-settlement, HI would assume the status of the sole NSF for hockey in the country.

“In today’s meeting, we proposed to almost double the strength of the HI executive board from 17 to 33 with equal voting rights in order to provide for co-option of 16 members of IHF. The reason to give power to HI is because the International Hockey Federation (FIH) recognises it,” the Sports Minister said.

“We have also proposed that KPS Gill be co-opted as life-time chief patron of HI and one IHF representative as the lone senior vice-president in the board,” This arrangement will continue till the end of 2014. After that, a transparent election will be held to elect the new office-bearers,” Maken said.

A miffed Indian Olympic Association president VK Malhotra on Friday vented his anger over the ministry for not involving it in the merger talks but Maken said IOA would be brought into confidence once the two warring bodies agreed to its proposal.

“IOA will definitely come in but after the issues are sorted out between HI and IHF. Without IOA’s recognition, the government also can’t recognise any sports body,” he said.

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