New Delhi : Veteran sports administrator Anil Khanna on Thursday decided to withdraw his candidature as President of All India Tennis Association (AITA), saying an acrimonious relationship with the government will only hurt the game.
Khanna was elected President for a second term (2012-16) at AITA’s AGM in Indore on September 3 but he had refused the post, citing ambiguity on cooling off period as per the Sports Code. He though became AITA Life President.
A tussle between AITA and the Sports Ministry is on since Khanna first became President in 2012 after serving two consecutive terms as Secretary General.
The government says Khanna had not served a mandatory four-year cooling off period before being elected as President but AITA contends that he did not seek re-election as Secretary-General and there were no instructions that a person, who has served as Secretary-General cannot become President without serving cooling-off period. However, the ministry stuck to its stand and resultantly, the AITA was de-recognised recently.
“I am going to recommend it to the AITA Executive Committee that I would not like to stay as President and I want it to go ahead with the election, as per constitution of AITA to get a new President,” Khanna, who is also ITF Vice President, said.
When reminded that he had taken a similar decision last year also but the AITA Executive Committee had not allowed him to quit, Khanna said he won’t change his stance this time.
“This time it is very specific. I want to withdraw my name. I will write to all 23 Associations, who have supported me, not to consider me. The Federation is unnecessarily getting a bad name. I have no sense of attachment,” Khanna, who is also IOA treasurer, said.
“We don’t want any acrimony with the government. I can always advise from outside if they need me. The Federation keeps on working even when the President or Secretary are not in country.”
Asked if he has taken this decision under pressure, Khanna replied in the negative. “I am not under pressure from anyone but I feel it is important for AITA to work in complete cooperation with the government. Without the government’s support and funds, it’s not possible. IOC says we should be independent but not independent of government. We have to be in sync with the government,” he said.
Khanna, however, said the issue was not buried and he will continue to fight. “I have accepted it personally because of my responsibilities with ITF and ATF but I will take it up from IOA to ensure that no Federation is singled out it.
“When we started only two people were working for DLTA and now 150 odd officials are there and we have made it financially independent. We conducted more than 800 tournaments last year without any government help.”
The Sports Code requires a cooling off period of four years if an office-bearer seeks re-election after serving two consecutive terms. The Ministry has also de-recognised three other federations Archery, Judo and Gymnastic for the same reasons but did not push the IOA with the same rule. AITA Secretary General Hironmoy Chatterjee had said the government should not single out any one Federation and rules should be same for all, including IOA.