- Court stays sports minister’s election as president of the Association after Farooq Abdullah loyalists challenge it in court
- Ansari defiant, says he has assumed office, started work
SRINAGAR: Cricket politics in the Valley witnessed high drama on Monday when a court stayed election of sports minister Imran Raza Ansari as new president of the controversy-ridden Jammu Kashmir Cricket Association following ouster of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah from the post.
Early in the day, 62 members of the JKCA elected Ansari as the president. Forty-seven of the working committee members were physically present at the election held at the association’s Sonwar headquarters, while Jammu University faxed its vote in Ansari’s favour.
The pro-Abdullah members boycotted the election, terming it as “unauthorised and illegal”.
Former bureaucrat Mehboob Iqbal was elected as chairman, Iqbal Shah as general secretary, Abdul Rouf as treasurer, while Javed Kitab and Mohammad Ashraf Bhat were appointed as vice-chairman and joint secretary respectively for Kashmir wing. Rakesh Kumar and Sudhershan Mehta were appointed as joint secretaries for the Jammu wing.
All the office bearers were elected un-opposed. Former general secretary Prof Manzoor Wazir said the term of office bearers including president will for one year from the date of the election.
However, excise magistrate (Jammu) Amarjeet Singh Langey stayed the election results and held that Abdullah will continue as the president till further orders. The magistrate passed the orders after hearing a suit filed by loyalists of Abdullah, who has been JKCA president for the past 35 years.
Abdullah, who was re-elected as president for a three-year term in May 2014, dubbed Ansari’s election as “illegal and unconstitutional”, saying he still had nearly two years left in his tenure.
“This (election) is against the constitution of the JKCA so it had no standing,” Abdullah said.
“We have got a stay order against it. We are going to fight them. This is the tragedy with this government. Mufti sahib’s government wants to create problems. It has already created division between Jammu and Kashmir and is creating division in JKCA,” he said.
“We have seen what has happened earlier when scam took place. The president did not know anything about it till it was exposed to me. That is why some of them (members) are on that side because they just want to usurp the money. That is the whole story, there is nothing else,” he said.
He said as per the rules of JKCA, elections are held in a working committee which is presided over by the president and for which notification is to be issued by the elected general secretary.
“There is a very clear and explicit judgement of Hon’ble Justice BA Kirmani dated July, 2, 2007 that Working Committee meeting of JKCA are necessarily to be presided over by the President and its notification is to be issued by the General Secretary and nobody else. There is no provision in JKCA rules for premature election or any no-confidence motion,” he said.
Ansari defended the elections saying the majority of the working committee members are with him.
“This was an open election and the observers as well as the media were there. The majority supported my candidature and elected me president,” Ansari said.
Ansari claimed that the term of the previous body had expired and that it had become imperative to hold fresh elections.
He said his “repeated calls and letters” to Farooq Abdullah, seeking a discussion on JKCA affairs, “went unheeded”.
Ansari assured he will do “justice which has been denied and delayed” for long.
“People at the helm of affairs at JKCA had have done nothing for cricket. The situation on the ground speaks volumes about how sports have been treated.”
ML Nehru, general secretary JKCA, who is also a vice-president of the BCCI from north zone, termed the elections as unauthorized and illegal.
Ansari said New Delhi and BCCI have always been “generous to us as they never stopped funding”.
“The problem has been from our side. Top BCCI office bearers told me that ‘our hearts are open for J&K but we want a serious body’ to come up,” he added.
Bakshi Rashid, Saifu-din, Mrs Mehmooda and Abdul Gani Lone had been former presidents of the JKCA, which came into existence in 1957.
—(With PTI inputs)