It has been a good month for Indian basketball. The men's national team successfully defended its SABA Championship title last week, comprehensively winning all five games in the tournament. A few days later, NBA draftee Satnam Singh Bhamara made his debut for Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. In the midst of these developments, the mess at Basketball Federation of India, which had been split into two factions in late-March, earlier this year, has remained unresolved. In such a scenario, the Indian Olympic Association has convened a meeting with both sides to try and end the division.
Background of the dispute
Earlier this year, BFI Secretary-General Ajay Sud's resignation from the administrative body left the house divided. In the ensuing AGM, two factions called in separate meetings. One faction was led by K Govindraj, who is also the President of Karnataka Olympic Association. On 27 March, he was elected as the new president of the body, taking over from RS Gill. A day later, however, another group led by the-then BFI CEO, Roopam Sharma, held their own meeting, and elected BJP MP Poonam Mahajan as the body's president.
The fallout from the dispute
The division at BFI has left Indian basketball in a spot of bother. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports recently asked the federation to not hold any basketball events until the dispute was sorted. The faction led by K Govindraj, however, has had its position strengthened after being recognised by Delhi High Court and FIBA, the international governing body for basketball. The court order gave control of the BFI office to the Govindraj-led faction, as its AGM was attended by outgoing president R S Gill. Gill, meanwhile, put his backing behind Govindraj as well, and termed the election of Poonam Mahajan as illegal.
Given its recognition by FIBA and the Delhi High Court, the Govindraj faction is unlikely to budge from its position. However, the situation gets a bit tricky when Poonam Mahajan's political prowess comes into the equation. The two groups will meet with IOA on 15 July to try and arrive at a solution, after the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports asked the body to step in and solve the dispute. IOA could end the dispute by giving its backing to Govindraj's group. However, if it supports the Mahajan-led faction, the legitimacy of which remains questionable, the situation at BFI will only get murkier.