New Delhi: It's not even three months since the new ad-hoc committee took over the reins of Indian hockey and it has courted a major controversy by removing chairman of selectors Aslam Sher Khan and appointing Ajitpal Singh as the new chief.
Aslam Sher Khan, who was vociferous in demanding more administrative powers for selectors, though will continue to be in the five-member selection committee.
At a meeting of the ad-hoc committee with Olympians and selection committee, it was decided that Ajit Pal will be the new chairman. The official reason given was that it was just a rotation allowing every selector to head the panel.
"He will continue to be a selector, but Ajit Pal Singh is the new chairman as a rotation policy," said ad-hoc committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi.
Asked why Aslam Sher was removed, Kalmadi said: "It was a collective decision. It was the decision of the house. Nothing could have been done about it."
That Aslam Sher's relationship with the ad-hoc committee has not at all been cordial was evident as he was not present at the meeting. When asked in the meeting whether Aslam Sher was invited to Thursday's meeting, the answer was that "he could not be contacted on phone." All other members were formally informed in writing.
Aslam Sher, who had aggressively campaigned for the removal of KPS Gill, had said during the junior Asia Cup in Hyderabad that the selectors should have more say in the ad-hoc committee.
He had stated that the selectors should be given more administrative powers so that they are involved with the planning process of bringing Indian hockey back on the rails. His logic was when the the selectors are held responsible for the team's performance, they should be given the powers to run the administration too.
A highly placed source in the Indian Olympic Association said that Aslam Sher's controversial public statements, despite being warned against freely airing his opinion, have not gone well with other ad hoc committee members as well as fellow-selectors. They also resented Aslam Sher's deliberate attempts to get media mileage by talking out of turn.
Another reason trotted out for Aslam Sher's removal was that he was junior to a couple of selectors, including Ajitpal. Eyebrows were raised when Aslam Sher was named chairman as Ajitpal Singh was his captain when India won the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
Since IHF was superseded on May 2, all the five selectors — the other three being Zafar Iqbal, Ashok Kumar and Dhanraj Pillay — met only once and that was before the Junior Asia Cup in Hyderabad to select the team. They had no occasion to pick the senior team as the team for the Azlan Shah Cup was more or less was the one selected by the Gill regime.