‘I am a fighter and I’ll fight to clean up the mess’

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Former India captain Pargat Singh who blasted IOA President Suresh Kalmadi for turning Hockey India into his fiefdom, tells Brijesh Pandey he will not buckle under pressure

Photo: Indian Express

What is the reason behind the stand-off between you and Suresh Kalmadi?
First of all, he is the one who created this chaos. He took over Hockey India (HI) about two years ago. Why has he then taken so long to finalise the process of holding the elections? Kalmadi and his coterie clearly wanted to hang on to power within HI. So they started their insidious process of granting immediate affiliation to those state associations that agreed to support them. First, they would deliberately delay the process of getting affiliation when a state association would submit a formal application. Then, when approached personally, they would be informed that the speeding up of the process would be subject to their supporting the coterie. So ultimately, Kalmadi has been using others just as a rubber stamp.

I have told him to stop playing this game of hide and seek with me, and that he should come out in the open about what he wants.

Why do you think that HI is not interested in holding election on time?
The only reason I can see is that they are still not sure of winning it. Once Kalmadi is sure of winning it, the elections will be announced immediately.

What was your experience of the affiliation process?
Disgusting. For ten days, morning and evening, I would be turned away without having submitted my application because of one clerical error or the other — a full stop here, a comma there. Now if you have only clerical issues to discuss then why waste my time? Hire a clerk. For one month it was all verbal communication. I got fed up with this and asked them to send me all their complaints in writing. When they finally responded on January 5, we promptly replied the next day. But even to achieve this, we had to put a lot of pressure on them.

Did Kalmadi or anyone on his behalf approach you for talks or offer some kind of a trade-off?
They told me that they would give affiliation to me only if I agreed to support them in the elections. I flatly refused. I want to contribute to the national side and not enter into any kind of deal. How can they expect us to do that? I told them that I am not the sort of person who will compromise on this, and that I will fight to the end, because affiliation is the right of every association, and not some benevolent act on the part of Hockey India.

‘They told me that they would give affiliation to me only if I agreed to support them in the elections’

HI General Secretary Narendra Batra has claimed that MS Gill, the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, has been putting pressure on him on your behalf, that he has been acting more like the Sports Minister of Punjab than of India. Any comments?
I don’t think that Narendra Batra should make such comments. What is his standing in so far as hockey is concerned? Even the state he belongs to has never won the national hockey championship. Batra is also a post holder in the Delhi Cricket Association. See, these people are not passionate about hockey. They just have a lot of money but no recognition. That’s the reason they do anything to be in power in national sports bodies. It’s like being a heart surgeon and talking like a property dealer. Every one knows Pargat Singh and how he played his hockey. I don’t need to stoop low for publicity.

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