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All India Chess Federation in a State of Flux

Is there going to be a contest in the upcoming elections for office-bearers of the All India Chess Federation (AICF)? If yes, what are the chances of the incumbent officials getting re-elected? Who else is likely to be in the electoral fray?

These are the questions that are floating around in the Indian chess circles.

There are several views and answers to some of the questions.

“The present dispensation is going to be become history in the annals of AICF. The Indian chess body will get a new President and Secretary,” a senior chess player told IANS preferring anonymity.

“For Dr. Sanjay Kapoor to get re-elected, he has to get two-third of votes polled. In the current situation, it is very difficult for him to get that many votes. As per the National Sports Code, an office-bearer for a second successive tenure should secure a majority of not less than two-third of the votes polled,” the chess player added.

Ajay H. Patel, a Gujarat-based cooperative banker and Senior Vice President of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) may throw his hat for the President’s post.

A couple of years back, he was elected as AICF President but the election was set aside by the Madras High Court.

Later in a strategic move, Kapoor was fielded for the post of President as part of former AICF Secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan/Patel camp.

Chauhan who was unseated as the AICF Secretary by the Delhi High Court for not getting two thirds of the votes polled in the 2021 elections has to wait for four years – the cooling off period – before he is able to contest for a post in the chess body, AICF’s recently-appointed Interim Secretary Ajeet Kumar Verma and others told IANS.

Verma, who plans to contest for the post of Secretary was more direct and blunt.

“Our target is to get 80 per cent of the votes polled in the upcoming elections. Even if he (Kapoor) gets one- third of the votes polled, I will concede defeat,” Verma told IANS.

According to him, in the AICF pot, everything came to boiling recently when Kapoor decided to hold the elections in his home city Kanpur this month and appointed Rang Nath Pandey, a retired High Court Justice as the election Returning Officer.

Verma said that the Gujarat State Chess Association went to the Delhi High Court against Kapoor’s decision and it ordered the AICF poll to be held in Delhi and also said one more Returning Officer – retired Delhi High Court Justice G.S.Sistani – will oversee the poll.

An emergency meeting of AICF was also called in Ahmedabad and the venue was later changed to National Capital Region (NCR) where the winds of change were strongly felt by the incumbent top officials.

The appointment of Verma, Secretary, Delhi Chess Association as AICF’s Interim Secretary in the place of Dr.Vipnesh Bhardwaj who had to retire at the age of 70 further underscored the general feeling against AICF’s top guns.

It is said the current dispensation at AICF was not in favour of appointing another Interim Secretary and were intent on delaying the polls.

“We had to apply pressure for appointment of another Interim Secretary,” Verma said.

“Many things promised by the AICF did not happen like Rs.10 lakh to State Chess Associations towards purchase of furniture and others. The National Chess Academy in Odisha was not followed up by AICF. The Indian Chess League also did not happen. The Mission 2025 announced with much fanfare also did not happen.” he added.

According to a couple of senior chess players, speaking on the condition of anonymity, several state bodies were disaffiliated by the new team that came to power after the last elections and ad hoc bodies were appointed.

The state chess bodies were disaffiliated as their officials were opposed to people in power in AICF, the players told IANS.

The elections have to be held on or before January 3, 2024 but the election schedule has not been announced till date.

Further 21 day notice should be given for holding of the elections as per AICF byelaws, chess players said.

According to them, the two Returning Officers will meet and decide on the course to be taken for holding the polls.

It is said the opening moves have been made by the parties interested in holding AICF posts and it has to be seen how the game progressed.

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