The Opposition parties on Tuesday agreed to keep their alliance on track for the Assembly polls due later this year, despite the drubbing it received by the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra. “We reflected on the Lok Sabha poll results and discussed the Assembly polls. We, in general, agreed to come together. We are yet to discuss things in detail and take final decision,” Maharashtra Congress committee president Ashok Chavan told reporters after the meeting.The Congress leader, who lost from Nanded, blamed the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) formed by Prakash Ambedkar and AIMIM for the defeat of the opposition alliance. He said the situation would have been better had the VBA joined the anti-BJP parties.Asked whether opposition would approach the VBA for an alliance, Mr. Chavan said, “The main issue is whether they are willing to be part of the grand alliance. We had tried last time, but they did not come together.” He however added that there was no discussion on aligning with Raj Thackeray-led MNS for the Assembly polls.He also said that the BJP was trying to poach Congress and NCP legislators, but would not succeed. Asked whether senior party leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil is joining the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he said, “Technically, he (Vikhe Patil) is still a member of the Congress. It is likely he may join the ruling party. I don’t think our MLAs will join the BJP. The BJP is trying to poach Congress or NCP MLAs. But I don’t think it will happen, we are being alert,” he added.Meanwhile, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti, who also attended the meeting, said he met Mr. Thackeray earlier in the day.“We shared our views. He had addressed a rally for me during the Lok Sabha polls. Hence, I met him after coming here,” said Mr. Shetti, who lost from Hatkanangale. The meeting was also attended by NCP leaders Jayant Patil, Ajit Pawar and Dhananjay Munde, CPI leader Prakash Reddy, Ashok Dhawale of the CPI(M) and the Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi.
After the high of the London Olympics brought about by our athletes, sadly the focus is back on Indian sports officialdom. It has returned to its most familiar state – officials squabbling over power and pulling out all stops to try and continue in office, even if one has outlived his term.Sports View by S. Kannan.The next two months will indeed be important for archery, boxing and the Indian Olympic Association, as they have to hold their elections.Given the tough stance taken by the sports ministry with regards to the guidelines and how those who have completed their tenures or are over 70 are ineligible to contest, it does become difficult for the seasoned administrators. But that doesn’t mean people like Suresh Kalmadi, Vijay Kumar Malhotra and Abhay Chautala, who are now ineligible to contest elections, will move away from the spotlight.It is well known that in the last two years, the sports ministry, first under MS Gill and now Ajay Maken, has played a proactive role in reining in the federations.Quite often, sports officials retort about how “the government infringes on their autonomy” and how they can do without sarkari support. The point is, despite corporate support for Indian sport growing gradually, the biggest spender for Olympic disciplines continues to be the government.At a time when India has won six medals at the Olympics, you can be sure that minus the government funding, these athletes would never have been able to do so well. From foreign exposure to training programmes and services of the best coaches, it has all come courtesy government spending.advertisementAnd even if you take a sport like boxing, where the men did not win a medal this time but Mary Kom did, they definitely need every rupee of the government’s support.Yet, when I talked to a few officials in these sports federations and the IOA, there are some who are ready to defy the government for their own self propagation.Suresh Kalmadi.While the sports ministry has been unable to push the sports development bill past the Union cabinet, let alone Parliament, it has nevertheless been able to ensure sports federations do fall in line as far as annual recognition and grant of funds is concerned.From archer Deepika Kumari to the clutch of new boxers who want to make it big, their federations rely on government largesse. So, for the sake of the athletes’ continuity in training, it is imperative that egoistic sports federation bosses step aside.A confrontation will not do anybody good as, in the end, the one who suffers is the athlete.We saw last year how the Badminton Association of India tried defying the sports ministry during its elections, but had to eventually fall in line.This time around, officials are looking at a new escape route. It is well known that as far as the sports ministry is concerned, their current guidelines harp on limited tenures and an age limit on the president, secretary and treasurer.The smarter ones have gone ahead and created fancy posts for themselves and the sports ministry has been unable to do anything about it. First, it was the late Harish Sharma who created the post of CEO for himself in the Basketball Federation of India. After that, the long-serving Baljeet Singh Sethi anointed himself as advisor in the National Rifle Association of India and virtually calls the shots even today.My nagging suspicion is that in the archery and boxing federation elections as well, we could see new posts being created so that those who fail the eligibility criteria can ‘beat’ the system. However, given the active roles played by people like Rahul Mehra, the day is not far off when almost every post in a national sports federation will come under the scanner.As regards the mother of all fights, the battle for supremacy in the Indian Olympic Association will be contested very keenly. It was interesting to read an item in newspapers that even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) wants to send its observers for the IOA elections.At least here, nobody can say the IOC wants to interfere as observers only watch. And for those who think the IOC is being asked to send an observer to India by one officer-bearer in the IOA, it’s indeed interesting how things are shaping up!Now that the Delhi High Court has said the IOA elections must be held as per the sports ministry guidelines, it will be interesting to see what Suresh Kalmadi, its president, does. He is over the tenure limit but still has the clout to put up his own candidates for the IOA elections. Yet, given the dynamics of how IOA elections play out every four years, it would be foolish to completely rule out a role being played by Kalmadi.email@example.com