Six-time Winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan on Saturday withdrew his candidature for an executive council member’s position ahead of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) elections.
Rowing Federation of India president Rajlaxmi Singh Deo will be elected unopposed to the post of vice president (female) in the December 10 elections after Alaknanda Ashok of Badminton Association of India pulled out on the last day of withdrawal.
Keshavan, who had filed nomination papers for one of the four positions of the ordinary executive council members, withdrew his candidature to avoid “division of votes” among candidates from winter sports.
Ice Skating Association of India’s Amitabh Sharma and Ice Hockey Association of India’s Harjinder Singh are also candidates for executive council members.
“I decided to withdraw as it made no sense to have three people from winter sports that would divide votes. Winter sports would have been left out,” Keshavan, who is a representative of Luge Federation of India, told PTI.
Three other candidates — Prashant Kushwaha, Digvijay Chautala and Shalini Thakur Chawla — also withdrew from executive council member elections. With their withdrawal, only eight candidates remain in the fray for four positions in the executive council.
Shalini, who represents All India Tennis Association (AITA) in the electoral college, also withdrew her candidature for the post of joint secretary (female), leaving the field open for a direct contest between Alaknanda Ashok and Suman Kaushik of Netball Federation of India.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chaubey will be elected unopposed to the other post of joint secretary (male) in the elections.
The IOA polls will be held only to elect one joint secretary (female) and four executive council members.
Keshavan, who is a member of the newly-formed IOA Athletes Commission, also said that he had got assurance that a separate commission for winter sports will be formed after the elections.
“I have got assurance that the IOA will set up a separate commission for winter sports after the elections. I am satisfied as long as the interest of winter sports are met,” said Keshavan who represented India in men’s singles luge in six Winter Olympics (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018).
The legendary PT Usha is set to become the first woman president of the IOA as she is the lone candidate for the top post.
The 58-year-old Usha, a multiple Asian Games gold medallist and a fourth-place finisher in the 1984 Olympics 400m hurdles final, will also become the first Olympian and first international medallist to head the IOA in its 95-year-old history.
She made it to the electoral college as one of the eight Sportspersons of Outstanding Merit (SOM) elected by the Athletes Commission of the IOA.
Ajay Patel of National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) will also be elected unopposed as senior vice-president. Olympic medallist shooter Gagan Narang is also the only candidate for the post of one male vice president.
Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWF) president Sahdev Yadav will be elected unopposed as the treasurer.
Olympic medallist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and archer Dola Banerjee will be the male and female representatives of the eight SOMs in the executive council.
The final list of candidates will be put up on Sunday.
The IOA elections are being held under the supervision of SC-appointed retired apex court judge L Nageswara Rao under the new constitution prepared by him.
The IOA adopted the new constitution on November 10 after getting approval from the international committee.
The 77-strong IOA electoral college has nearly 25 per cent former athletes with a host of current and former sportspersons, including Olympic medallists P V Sindhu, Gagan Narang, Sakshi Malik, Yogeshwar Dutt and M M Somaya.
There are 66 members from 33 National Sports Federations which have nominated one male and one female each, eight SOMs (four male and four female), two from the Athletes Commission (one male and one female) and a member of International Olympic Committee in India, Nita Ambani.
The IOA electoral college also has more women members (39) than male (38).
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