A defiant Indian Olympic Association (IOA) sought to brazen it out even as the clamour for a rollback grew louder on Wednesday after the scam-tainted duo of Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala were elevated to Life Presidents of the sporting body.
The aftershocks of IOA's decision, which was heavily criticised by Sports Minister Vijay Goel in a hurriedly-called press conference on Tuesday, became stronger in intensity.
The IOA top brass was incommunicado after the shocking move, even as Chautala came out to defend himself by launching an attack on Goel.
However, that did little to douse the fire and Goel was joined by Ajay Maken, the former sports minister, in criticising the move and calling it "sad and painful".
"As a former sports minister and sports enthusiast, the IOA's decision to appoint Kalmadi and Chautala as Life Presidents is sad and very painful. This decision is not good for sports and India's image," Maken said.
"I request the sports minister not only to convey his reservations but take strong actions to reverse the decision. All the National Sports Federations are funded by the Sports Ministry, so the government should exercise its full powers to reverse the decision. If they do so, there is no reason the matter can't be resolved," he added.
Chautala, on the other hand, wondered what the fuss was all about, going to the extent of ridiculing Goel for expressing pain on his appointment.
"I was surprised by the reaction of Sports Minister Vijay Goel. He was claiming that there are criminal and corruption cases against me. The case against me is not a criminal case, it is a political case," a livid Chautala said.
"Goel has failed in his responsibility as sports minister. I would advise him to fulfil his responsibility because if he does that, our medal count will increase manifold and he will get credit for that. Instead of getting into a controversy without knowing full facts, he should focus on his job," he added.
Chautala also said that he had done enough for Olympic sports in India to deserve the IOA Life President's post.
Maken, meanwhile, also questioned BJP MP Anurag Thakur, BJP-ally Shiromoni Akali Dal MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and IOA sitting vice-president Tarlochan Singh, for not opposing the appointments as they were a part of the IOA AGM that took place in Chennai.
"Today, when we are talking about eradicating corruption and graft from the country we are bringing back such tainted individuals. What message is the IOA is giving?" he asked.
"Anurag Thakur, Dhindsa and Tarlochan Singh were all part of the IOA Executive Committee and were there at the meeting On Tuesday. I request them all to take back the decision for the image of the country," Maken added.
Kalmadi served as the IOA president from 1996 to 2011 and was jailed for 10 months for his involvement in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games corruption scandal, but was later released on bail.
Chautala, on the other hand, served as the president of the IOA from December 2012 to February 2014 when the sports body was suspended by the parent IOC for fielding charge-sheeted candidates at the elections. His election as IOA chief was annulled by the IOC.
Also speaking on the issue was Justice (retd) Mukul Mudgal, who headed a Supreme Court-appointed committee to inquire corruption in the 2013 Indian Premier League. Mudgal felt the IOA has erred.
"Their (Kalmadi and Chautala) guilt is a matter of trial but I think it (elevation in IOA) was avoidable and they should not have done it. I am told this was not even on the agenda. In theory, sports bodies are independent but for all events, they need state funding. The government can stop funding but it will only hurt Indian sports. It's a difficult situation," he opined.
"It is for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take a view on this but I hope IOA is not banned because that would be bad for Indian sports," he added.
Updated Date: Dec 28, 2016 15:41:05 IST