If you're a fan of Indian Basketball, you probably know the details of this drama already. After two competing factions for the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) split the federation in two, India's Ministry of Youth and Sports affairs intervened and banned all official basketball activities in India until they could come to a decision regarding this mess. The BFI is the governing and controlling body of basketball in India, and is responsible for the development and promotion of the sport at all levels. With a ruthless, political fight for power, those who are supposed to govern Indian basketball have actually ended up hurting it. A few months ago, I had even satirically suggested that the two teams fighting for BFI control should decide things on the court with an actual basketball game.
will face-off in a meeting convened by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) at their head office in New Delhi on Wednesday, July 15.
The IOA has been deputized by the Government's Ministry of Sports to sort out the bickering between the two sides and help get Indian basketball back on track. They sent a letter to the two presidents of Team Govindraj and Team Mahajan, asking them to appear for this meeting at noon on Wednesday.
"The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India vide its letter No F.No. 16-14/2009-SP (Vol.II) dated 29th June, 2015 has requested Indian Olympic Association to sort out the dispute of Basketball Federation of India."
"The International Basketball Federation is also of the view that there is a clear division in Basketball Federation of India and both the factions are claiming to be the genuine President and Secretary General of Indian Basketball Federation."
"It is, therefore, requested that you may kindly make yourself available in the office of the Indian Olympic Association, B-29, Qutub Institutional Area, New Delhi-110016 on 15th July, 2015 at 12.00 noon so that a meaningful discussion may take place between both the factions in order to bring an end to the dispute to ensure smooth functioning in Basketball Federation of India and protect the interest of sports persons."
About four months ago, Team Govindraj and Team Mahajan held two separate Annual General Meetings (AGM) in two different cities (Bengaluru and Pune) on consecutive days, which each side claiming to be the rightful executive body of the federation. Because they had lawfully conducted their meeting with the previous president (KS Gill) present, Team Govindraj were able to win the Delhi High Court order to gain control of the BFI office in New Delhi and also receive recognition from FIBA, the international basketball association. Despite all this, the Ministry of Sports continued to consider the BFI a broken house, and halted Team Govindraj from executing any further basketball programmes until the dispute had been sorted out. The BFI were able to gain temporary relief to host the South Asian Basketball Championship in Bengaluru earlier this month, but for a more permanent fix, the government and the IOA will now have to pass the final judgement in this struggle.
Many believe that, despite Team Govindraj gaining recognition from the Delhi High Court and FIBA, the Ministry of Sports deflated Indian basketball because of the political connections that Team Mahajan has with the Indian government. The legal and rightful recourse should be to led the K Govindraj-led BFI get things back to track and focus on basketball instead of politics. But, if the Government, the Ministry of Sports, and the IOA are biased towards Poonam Mahajan and Roopam Sharma's faction, then we can expect this drama to carry on for as long as it takes to make Team Govindraj uncomfortable and budge aside to share the space with Team Mahajan.
Wednesday's meeting is sure to be a fascinating face-off of two determined sides, and the the results will shape the future direction of Indian basketball. I wish it could be televised.
UPDATE: The meeting has been rescheduled for Sunday, July 19, according to The Times of India.