Truce may finally prevail in the Indian Olympic Association. After being at loggerheads and trading bards for several weeks, two most powerful personalities in the IOA, Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra and secretary-general Rajeev Mehta are heard speaking in same mild tones.
A day after President Narinder Batra called for truce among the warring factions of the IOA, Mehta has also asked to end the acrimony which he feels is hurting Indian sports.
The factionalism that started with a tug of war between Batra and Mehta had reached the international headquarters of the Olympic sports and hockey with the Mehta faction levelling strong allegations against Batra and questioning his elections to the IOA and the world hockey body FIH. Batra too had countered the allegations strongly and availed a clean chit from the international federations.
However, it seems the two factions have realised that infighting will cause more harm than good to their respective interests. After Batra’s appeal on Sudnay, Mehta too had released a statement that “this infighting in the IOA is not good and we should end this for the good of Indian sports. We should sort out the issues amicably. All of us are trying our best. I am very positive that all the office bearers and executive council members will settle the issues and work together,” Mehta said in a statement.
“I appeal to all officials and members of the IOA to shun infighting, and work collaboratively towards the best interests of athletes and development of their respective sports,” Batra had stated on Sunday.
Former Karate Association of India vice-president Bharat Sharma has sent a legal notice to Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra, accusing the IOA chief of making “untrue and “culpably defamatory statement” against him during an alleged telephonic showdown with a KAI official.
The four-page legal notice by Sharma had called for an unconditional apology from Batra within 48 hours.
Batra, on his part, had issued a statement on Sunday calling the alleged audio clip of his heated conversation with KAI general secretary Ambedkar Gupta, which has been widely circulated on WhatsApp, “a mischievous act to reflect misleading facts made with the ulterior motive of projecting me in poor light.”
It is the latest episode in the infighting that has marred IOA ever since Batra and Mehta were locked in a bitter turf war.
The legal notice sent by Sharma’s lawyer, Advocate BK Wadhwa, according to PTI, accuses Batra of using “untrue, false, defamatory, mocking and filthy words” against Sharma.
The notice also states that “It is pertinent to state that you addressee have even gone to the length of blackmailing Sh Ambedkar Gupta who has raised voice against your oppressive actions and policies by stating that you addressee shall finish him from sporting world and no one would dare to grant any recognition to his association in near future.”
In his Sunday statement, Batra had urged all IOA affiliates to stop the infighting.
The public spats between IOA officials had earlier reached the doorsteps of the IOC and the world hockey body — the FIH — with a few officials questioning Batra’s election as president of both the IOA and the FIH.
The power tussle between the key officials of the IOA began when Batra told Mehta that he wants to take over a few responsibilities from him to “share his burden”.
It gradually reached a level where vice-President Sudhanshu Mittal sought an international inquiry into Batra’s election, a demand that was rejected by the IOC as well as the FIH.
Batra and Mehta have also been giving opposing views on the resumption of sporting activities in the country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Batra expects the action to resume by October, Mehta is less optimistic and has asserted that athletes shouldn’t be rushed back to training or competition given the rising cases in the country.