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'A person has to have leadership skills to stay on for so long'
As Suresh Kalmadi awaits his fate in jail, former president of the Rowing Federation of India (RFI) and long-time Kalmadi associate KP Singh Deo is hopeful the IOA will find the right person for the job.
Singh Deo, a retired brigadier who fought the 1971 war with Kalmadi before joining him at the IOA, defended his former boss. "Kalmadi first lost to Adityan and then defeated him. He again faced opposition in the next elections, but fought his way through.
There have been challenges, but in the end there was no contest," Singh Deo, now the Pradesh Congress Committee chief in Orissa, said without elaborating on those elections Kalmadi won unopposed.
"A person has to have some leadership skills to be there for so long," he said. Singh Deo also gave credit to Kalmadi for improving India's medals tally in the Asian Games. "If you check the data before and after the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, you will find that there is a huge improvement in both quantity and quality.
"( After Kalmadi's arrest) I tried to talk to other members but most of them were afraid. I got through to only three of them, including VK Malhotra," Singh Deo told CrestSport.
On a suitable replacement for Kalmadi, Singh Deo, who was not assigned any key posts in the CWG organising committee, said the IOA's functioning is not about a single individual. "I don't think there is any question of running away from this situation. There are always people willing to take up responsibilities. I'm sure it (IOA) will function well as it is not about the availability of one person," Singh Deo said.
Asked whether he would be keen to take up the top job, the former rower and seven-time MP said he wasn't interested. "Being a sportsperson all through my life, I can't stay away from sports. But I've had enough. Besides, I'm seventy years old (the cut-off age in the proposed sports bill). I've enjoyed my stint as a sportsperson and sports administrator, but now I have many other responsibilities," he said.
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