‘Centre must probe conflict of interest of AICF top bosses’

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Chennai, Sep 2 (IANS) The Central government should probe the conflict of interest of All India Chess Federation’s (AICF) office-bearers or their relatives who are/were running chess academies, chess players have demanded.

They also said the recent media statement by the AICF that it supports players is nothing a defensive move after the charges levelled by Arjuna Awardee and India’s second Grand Master (GM) Dibyendu Barua against it and its affiliated body, the Bengal Chess Association (BCA).

The probe demand has arisen after the AICF said it would conduct a probe into the affairs of the BCA following a complaint of conflict of interest.

Gurpreet Pal Singh and Karun Duggal, who are fighting AICF for a long time to play in the domestic circuit, told IANS that the government must probe the conflict of interest of various office bearers of the AICF and their relatives who are/were running chess academies and sports foundations.

On August 27, a normally-reticent Barua took the Indian chess world by surprise by levelling various charges against BCA Secretary and AICF Joint Secretary Atanu Lahiri, including not giving recognition to his tournament, conflict of interest with regard to a West Bengal government project to teach chess to tribal students in the state, not allowing players to participate in tournaments and deciding not to invite GM Surya Shekhar Ganguly and GM Deep Sengupta for any chess functions/activity.

The AICF immediately issued a statement condemning Lahiri and said it would probe the affairs of the BCA.

“No player can be stopped from playing chess. This is the motto of AICF,” it added.

Singh, however, said: “Nearly a decade back, the AICF had banned several players from playing in the tournaments. It also took the initiative of asking FIDE-global chess body to withdraw the players ratings. The only crime was to have played in tournament not recognised by AICF.”

He claimed the AICF had even gone to the extent of writing to a tournament organiser in Thailand not to allow him to play in a competition in 2011-12.

Recently, the FIDE, on its own, restored the ratings of 55 Indian players while the AICF top bosses did not move a finger in support of the players, Singh added.

Singh, Duggal and two others had filed a case in the Competition Commission of India (CCI) against AICF’s action of banning them from playing in the domestic circuit several years back for playing in a non-recognised tournament.

The CCI had held the AICF’s rule preventing players from playing in tournaments not recognised by it as anti-competitive and ordered its removal. The CCI also fined AICF Rs 692,350.

Suggal and Singh said that the AICF has gone on appeal against the CCI order, and while claiming that its motto is not to prevent players from playing chess, it was not re-registering us as players. “They want us to apologise in writing. We have not contravened any rule to tender an apology. Let the AICF say which rule we have broken,” Duggal and Singh told IANS.

The AICF, in its statement, had also said either itself or any other state/district association are empowered to stop any chess tournament being organised by anyone, which is in line with the CCI order.

Chess tournament organisers told IANS has said the office bearers of district chess associations threaten players from playing in non-recognised tournaments, and the AICG should have sent the CCI order to all state and district units.

–IANS

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