Ashish Shelar files nomination for BFI elections

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NEW DELHI: Former Maharashtra Sports Minister Ashish Shelar on Thursday filed his nomination for the Boxing Federation of India president's post and expressed confidence about sweeping the BFI elections on February 3.

During a media interaction here, Shelar was quoted by PTI as saying that he and his team had met virtually every state unit in the run-up to the much-delayed elections and have noted their dissatisfaction with the current dispensation headed by Ajay Singh.

"We are going to win the BFI elections by garnering over 70% of the votes," the newswire quoted Shelar as having said in response to a query.

"I have personally interacted with almost every state unit and have learnt that the current dispensation in BFI under Mr Ajay Singh had made many promises before coming to power but has delivered very little," he added.

Shelar said he would usher in a new dawn in Indian boxing.

"The federation itself has been run in an autocratic manner, with the state units being completely ignored, which has been a huge setback for Indian boxing at the grassroots level.

"The financial situation of the BFI is also very delicate due to gross mismanagement and lack of vision which requires urgent attention," he said.

Shelar, who has held many top positions in sport, including as president of Maharashtra Cricket Association and Mumbai District Football Association, said that Singh and his team were desperately trying to cling on to power, even rigging the Electoral College list through the Returning Officer.

"The Delhi High Court had ruled that only the president or secretary can finalise the voters' list. Despite that, the RO has taken decisions on at least three states without having any power to do so, which are, as you can imagine, detrimental to us," he alleged.

Secretary-general of BFI Jay Kowli confirmed that he, like most others in the federation, was most unhappy with the way the BFI had been functioning. "It was being run out of the Spicejet (Singh is the principal shareholder and chairman and managing director of the airline) office in Gurugram in a dictatorial manner. None of us were ever taken into confidence and nothing has been done to promote and nurture boxing at the grassroots level.

"I had been voicing my dissent against all this but without any effect. I am convinced that another spell by this team can ruin boxing. Something as basic as holding junior level national tournaments has not been done in the last four years. That is why I decided to support somebody who has the welfare of the sport and the boxers in his heart," Kowli said.