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Jitin Prasada to be elected IHF President (10/27/2012)
--K. Arumugam
The Indian Hockey Federation’s intense search for the rival politician to take on BJP backed Hockey India has come to an end with the choice of two-time Member of Parliament, Jitin Prasada.

The ruling party, Indian National Congress’ Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways is expected to be elected as IHF president in its November 5, Annual General Body Meeting to be held in Delhi.

The sitting IHF President RK Shetty has already resigned paving way for Jitin’s entry to top seat directly.

Ever since Arun Jaitley, former Law Minister of Union Government, backed Hockey India to the hilt – after all HI’s Secretary General Narinder Batra is his trusted treasurer in Delhi District Cricket Association – the IHF has been in search of a matching political rival. It has to actually come from Congress as Arun Jaitley is Opposition Leader (holding Cabinet Minister Rank) of Upper House.

undefined Jitin Prasada, who belongs to a traditional Congress Family, is elected Member of Parliament from Lakhimpur Kheri in Uttar Pradesh, his second electoral win. Son of Jitendra Prasada, former advisor to two Prime Ministers, Rajiv Gandhi and Narasimha Rao, had earlier won the election from his home constituency Saharanpur, also in Uttar Pradesh.

The 39-year Old Prasada is married to television journalist Neha Singh.

The IHF in its 80-year old history have never been headed by a politician, a unique record given the strong dynamics of politicos in Indian sports scenario. The clean slate was expected to fall with the Hockey India openly throwing Arun Jaitely in its rank.

When Hockey India organized a grand send off function for the Indian Olympic hockey team in June this year, the stage was a rare visual.

Former Opposition Leader Malhotra, present Opposition Leader Arun Jaitely, a Delhi Pradesh BJP Chief were on the dais. For Ajay Maken, the reigning Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, being a Delhi, for whom the above trio is strongmen on the other side of the political spectrum, it must have been a thrust area to blunt.

So, it was but obvious the present choice of IHF to Jitin is on expected lines.

The search for a politician for IHF Chair actually intensified after the HI organized its National Championship in Karnataka, which is ruled by the opposition party, BJP. Arun Jaitley and the BJP Chief Minister of the State were together present in the concluding ceremony last fortnight.

For those who would like to know the actual situation of sports administration in India, a small peep into the past is a must.

Ever since IOA was formed in the early 1920s, its philenthropists, businessmen and then serving policemen who controlled various Sports Bodies. Government exercised strict control on them, rules and regulations were scrupulously followed.

However, the scenario changed dramatically in the early 80s, with the then Congress General Secretary -- and Prime Minister aspirant -- Rajiv Gandhi entering the field to organize the 1982 Asian Games.

He was then the president of Youth Congress as well.

Most of his supporters like Vidhya Stokes (who later became president of Indian Women Hockey Federation), Jagdish Tytler, Suresh Kalmadi, even Sharad Pawar (the present Agriculture Minister was for long Khabadi association president) and others jumped into the sports administration.

Even the Indian Olympic Association had to be headed by politicians like VC Shukla and Suresh Kalmadi, before that it was led by the likes of so-called Rajas and businessmen like Tatas and Aditans.

Actually, the ruling Congress had a head start in this, while only a lone politician from other party, VK Malhotra, in the sports bodies till Arun Jaitley took on Bisen Singh Bedi in the DDCA elections a decade ago.

Now, sports in India means Cricket, so every prominent regional politician is president of State Cricket Bodies; here you have an array of them from across every political spectrum, right from Narinder Modi (BJP), Lalu Prasad (RJD), Dr. Farooq Abdullah (NC) etc.

Hockey being a poor man's game has escaped from the politician's onslaught, and now with the arrival of Jitin Prasads, the situation is going to change, and will it be for good or bad is nobody's guess.

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