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    Default Hockey Punjab blames Kalmadi for affiliation mess

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    Hockey India's (HI) affiliation process is once again in the centre of controversy with Hockey Punjab (HP) Sunday claiming that despite meeting all the requirements Punjab is yet to be affiliated with the national body.

    HP president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the deputy chief minister of Punjab, said they have merged the three associations in the state to form a unified group as per the HI constitution.

    "We were the first state to create a unified hockey body. So the denial of affiliation is strange," he said.

    Badal slammed Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi for the issue and raised serious questions about the transparency of the process.

    "We have fulfilled all the conditions and followed the instructions given by the IOA through the Punjab Olympic Association (POA). But there has been no response from HI as to why we can't get the affiliation," Badal told reporters here Sunday.

    Badal said if they are not granted affiliation, they will be left with no option but to explore "legal possibilities".

    HP secretary Pargat Singh, an Olympian and former captain, said more than once they have written to HI asking to clear the air.

    "The International Hockey Federation vice-president Antonio van Ondarza has said there is no technical problem in our affiliation. We have spoken to Sports Minister M.S. Gill and will meet him again. But it's a mystery to us as to why we have been kept out," said Pargat Singh.

    Some other state hockey units had alleged that the affiliation process of HI has not been "free and fair", which resulted in the cancellation of the HI election in November. The sports ministry and International Hockey Federation have issued strict guidelines to maintain transparency in the affiliation process. The HI election is slated for Jan 29, but affiliation of states has still not been completed.

    IOA formed HI to run the sport in the country after FIH warned that an elected and unified body should be in place before the World Cup from Feb 28.

    Badal said: "It has been four months since we applied for the affiliation, but they have kept on delaying it without giving any proper reason."

    "We are going to take a firm stand now. We want to know the reason for not recognising us while several other groups have been affiliated."

    Badal held Kalmadi accountable for delaying the affiliation process.

    "He is the IOA president and he is accountable for this. Despite our repeated requests, neither he nor Hockey India president A.K. Mattoo have responded in writing," Badal said.

    "Punjab is the nursery of Indian hockey and they cannot hold the election without granting us affiliation."

    He said other prominent states where hockey is popular have also been sidelined.

    "Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Mumbai and Kerala have also not been granted affiliation. There seems to be a conspiracy to keep states with a rich legacy in the game out of the election," Badal said.

    Badal refused to say anything on reports of his plans to contest for the post of HI president.

    "That is not the issue right now. Let's not play politics when India is to host the hockey World Cup and the Commonwealth Games," he said.


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