VK Malhotra, Archery Association President, tells Neha Dixit that MS Gill’s directive is an attempt to divert attention from the the CWG mess
You have been the Archery Association of India President for the last 37 years. What is wrong in accepting Sports Minister MS Gill’s bar of 12 years?
In a country like India nobody has the right to dismantle an elected body, be it an NGO, a municipal body or any association for that matter. All these sports federations are elected bodies. They should take lessons from the Kuwait Olympic Committee, which was suspended by the International Olympic Committee for interference. The sportspersons suffered because of that.
MS Gill has asked officials above the age of 70 to resign.
Does he mean that people above 70 are unfit to govern? By that logic Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is 77, should be the first to quit, followed by Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee, who is 75, and Sheila Dikshit, who is 73.
Gill says the rule was formulated during the Emergency. He has just implemented them now.
Exactly, what is the point of revoking it 35 years later? It’s disgusting. No Constitution in the world has put a bar on the number of terms an association head can serve. These guidelines are illegal and fascist in nature. They refute the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution. When I was elected as the head of the Archery Association for the third time in the ’80s, they had issued similar guidelines. I appealed in the court, and it upheld my case, saying that no clause in the Constitution puts a bar on the number of terms a person can be elected.
What’s wrong with the timing of the announcement?
It was made on a Sunday. Parliament was not in session. Since the preparations for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) are not complete, he is trying to divert attention by making such announcements. The Sports Ministry is in the dock for not creating the infrastructure for the shooting ranges. All the preparations should have been completed in 2007, but that hasn’t happened. Instead of being ashamed, he is indulging in all this.
In fact, not a single general body meeting of the Sports Authority of India has taken place in the last five years.
‘The ministry’s job is to give grants, not meddle in sports. Federations don’t seek government recognition’
Which infrastructure projects are not ready for the CWG?
All the associations are crying foul. The Cycling Federation has still not been able to import bikes. Similarly, the Badminton Association is facing problems importing shuttlecocks. The stadiums are in a bad shape. Because of this, the players of various federations have never been able to take advantage of the home ground. Neither have they been able to practice well. Moreover, Gill went ahead and inaugurated stadiums for badminton, shooting, archery, tennis single-handedly without even inviting the presidents of the associations concerned. He got the media to publish certain photos, which were not even true.
You allege that Gill has also interfered in the selection process of the shooting and hockey teams.
MS Gill must understand that the job of the ministry is to provide grants — not meddle in the sports. The sports federations do not seek recognition from the government, they want recognition globally, amongst international organisations.