AICF Prez Raja not member of TN chess body, can’t contest polls: Rival camp

By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, Dec 5 : Retired Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, R. Kannan, the returning officer for the elections to the All India Chess Federation (AICF), is expected to finalise the electoral college to elect the new office-bearers of the federation soon, said an advocate.

“Retired justice Kannan had three meetings and both the sides presented their view points on the composition of the electoral college,” Sanjay Chadha, advocate for AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan, told IANS.

“The returning officer had a hearing on Friday. The objections have been raised as the National Sports Development Code was violated,” Chauhan told IANS.

The AICF is split into two factions – one headed by former President P.R. Venketrama Raja and the other by Chauhan. As per a recent Madras High Court order, Chauhan is the Secretary only for signing of AICF cheques.

Both the factions had put forth their arguments for and against the changes in the electoral college before the returning officer.

While the Chauhan camp wants a new electoral college to be drawn up, the Raja camp is against that.

“Raja himself cannot stand for re-election as he is not a member of the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association (TNSCA). Only a member of the state chess association can contest and this point was also submitted to the returning officer,” Chadha said.

He said Raja is only a lifetime registered player as TNSCA does not have the category of lifetime member.

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“Couple of years back, TNSCA had changed all life members into lifetime registered players. As life members, they could attend the general body meeting of TNSCA. But as lifetime registered players, they are not eligible for that. I was a life member and now a I’m a lifetime registered player,” V. Kameswaran, India’s first International Chess Arbiter, told IANS.

Kameswaran’s registration number is 8 while Raja’s registration number is 39, as per TNSCA website.

The TNSCA has given them only the registration number, and not membership number.

As per the TNSCA website, there are 144 lifetime registered players that include five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand and India’s first International Master Manuel Aaron.

Chadha said that arguments have been put forth before the returning officer that eight state chess associations are not eligible to vote in the upcoming elections as they have not complied with the National Sports Development Code.

According to Chadha, three state chess associations — Tripura, Rajasthan and Andaman and Nicobar — are not affiliated/recognised by their respective state governments, a must under the National Sports Development Code, and hence cannot vote in the AICF polls.

“Similarly, the Himachal Pradesh state association was dismissed by the AICF Central Council on October 15, 2019 and it is also not eligible to vote. In the case of West Bengal, the association’s elections were held in violation of the National Sports Development Code as individual members were allowed to vote,” Chadha said.

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According to him, arguments against All Marathi Chess Association and West Bengal Chess Association on the grounds of alleged financial impropriety and against Andhra Pradesh Chess Association (non-payment of prize money by a tournament organiser) were also put forth before the returning officer.

Chadha said the remaining 24 state chess associations are in compliance with the National Sports Development Code.

On the other hand, Vijay Deshpande, Secretary, All Marathi Chess Association, told IANS: “Our contention is that there is no need to change the electoral college. We want the old electoral college and there is no question of a new voter list. We are sure the returning officer will accept our argument.”

The old electoral college was drawn up for the February 2020 elections.

At that time, the then returning officer, retired Supreme Court judge Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, had rejected the electoral nomination of 23 contestants — including that of incumbent President Raja and several others — as they did not file their nominations in person.

Kalifulla accepted only five nominations as valid — all belonging to Raja’s rival camp led by Chauhan and Gujarat State Chess Association President Ajay H Patel.

The matter then went to the Madras High Court.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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