EFI has to become accountable, says Rajesh Pattu

Colonel Rajesh Pattu, Arjuna Awardee, who is leading the fight against the Equestrian Federation of India  for poor governance and making riders suffer. (Photo EFI)

At a time when all National Sports Federations in India stare at a bleak future as they stand de-recognised by the sports ministry, some like the Equestrian Federation of India still continue to remain defiant.

Facing multiple court cases in the Delhi High Court for the last six years, on matters pertaining to governance, selection issues relating to the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and also not complying with the National Sports Code  2011, the EFI refuses to engage with its state associations.

And this, after the Rajasthan state unit of the EFI dragged the apex body to the Delhi High Court last year before the elections. At that time in September 2019, the EFI got relief and went ahead with the elections. Results were allowed to be notified, provisionally, though the EFI, as is its wont, continued to change presidents like an annual exercise just because QMGs (Quarter Master Generals) were retiring and new officers were taking charge.

However, in June, the EFI faced humiliation as the Delhi High Court did not allow the president and senior vice president “to take charge” as they had reduced the sports code to a joke.

Last December, the Rajasthan state association, which has been in touch with another 22 units, tried to talk to the EFI and the sports ministry. However despite email communication following a meeting in Bengaluru, there was no response.

“The Rajasthan state unit had asked the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for an adhoc body to be installed but we did not get a favourable reply,” said Colonel Rajesh Pattu, Arjuna Awardee, who is leading the fight against the EFI for poor governance and making riders suffer.

“The reply we have got from the IOA, through an affidavit in court is that for an adhoc body to be formed, the world body (FEI) has to take suitable intervention. We are waiting for justice as the EFI is anti riders and continues not to support athletes,” said Pattu.

“The case of Fouaad Mirza is a notable one. He gets no financial support from the EFI and his entire preparations for the Tokyo Olympics are taken care of by his sponsors (Embassy Group). Even for an Arjuna Award nomination, the EFI played politics this time. It is to the credit of the 61 Cavalry and the SSCB (Services Sports Control Board) that Ajay Anant Sawant, India captain in tent-pegging got the award this time,” said Pattu.

Pattu, who himself was a victim of selection politics before the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta said he wants the sport to grow so that youngsters are not victimised.

“It is laughable in 2017 the EFI promised a sports code and roadmap. Three years later, EFI is again talking of a sports code and conveyed to the IOA and sports ministry, they are working on a roadmap. There is no transparency and minutes of various meetings are  not there on the EFI website. When senior officers like Brig Gyan Puri resigned over governance issues, the EFI still was unmoved,” said Pattu.

In his view, it is good the EFI is under pressure from all quarters right now. Surprisingly, they enjoy immense support from the sports ministry despite defying NSDC 2011 rules and provisions.

“”As a rider and also part of the movement for transparency in the EFI, we will keep fighting for justice. I have served the Indian Army and am aware of what discipline is. This needs to apply to the EFI as well,” added Pattu.

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