Hindustan Times, New Delhi
In a major setback for Indian gymnasts yet again, the sports ministry has rejected the Gymnastics Federation of India’s (GFI) appeal to grant recognition on the ground that it violated the National Sports Development Code 2011, when fresh elections of the GFI office bearers were conducted on November 5 last year.
It has been over a decade that the national governing body in gymnastics has been mired in controversy due to infighting between two factions. The last officially recognised senior national competition was held in 2011-2012. The GFI has been derecognized since 2011.
In the latest incident, according to the ministry, the GFI flouted eligibility norms during its elections. The sports code states that for office bearers who have served two consecutive terms need a cooling off period of four years before they are eligible again. This clause was allegedly overlooked when S Shantikumar Singh was elected secretary general.
“He served two terms in office from 2011-2015 and 2015-2019. Therefore isn’t eligible for third term without a break,” the ministry informed the GFI in its letter issued on April 27, and went on to point out a second case of ineligibility.
Singh didn’t respond to calls or text messages, while GFI president Sudhir Mittal agreed it’s a big setback.
“Representation is being submitted to government for reconsideration of its decision. Post-lockdown we would further take the matter with the ministry,” he said.
The ministry’s stand is clear–remove the ineligible candidates and then seek recognition.
“The newly appointed body was supposed to streamline the system, but the standoff with the government is a big problem,” said Bishweshwar Nandi, who coaches Dipa Karmakar. Nandi believes grassroots development and age-group programmes will continue to suffer.
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