Blackmailing slur against four-term ATTA secretary
GUWAHATI: The newly formed body of the Assam Table Tennis Association (ATTA), and especially its secretary Tridib Duvarah, has earned for itself a rather bad name after holding an allegedly “rigged” annual general meeting (AGM) that prompted Duvarah to reach out to the parent body, Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI), as part of his “damage control exercise.”
According to insiders in the Oil India Limited (OIL), Duvarah, who became an employee of the organization through its sports quota by virtue of having been a proficient table tennis player, has collected “positive recommendations” from other serving employees employed through the same quota to prove his credibility to the TTFI.
“But the recommendations were garnered through blackmailing,” the insider, who is also a sports quota employee in a different sport, told G Plus.
“I’ve been witness to one such incident in which he had asked a table tennis player to write good things about him and make unrealistic claims of his contributions to develop the sport of table tennis in the state through the association (ATTA). He threatened that if the employee did not heed to his demands, Duvarah will have him transferred to Mumbai,” the insider further added.
Earlier this week, Duvarah had gone to the TTFI office with a “fat file” of recommendations from fellow members of the association, employees of OIL and one from the Chairman & Managing Director of OIL, Utpal Bora, after G Plus, in its May 5-11 edition, reported anomalies conducted by him in the ATTA.
On April 29, ATTA had formed its new committee during the AGM at a city hotel using police force in which the district associations of Nagaon, Nazira, North Lakhimpur and Silchar were not allowed to participate citing “non-submission of nomination letters on time.”
The excluded associations thereafter filed a memorandum of “no confidence” to the chief minister of Assam and the TTFI alleging several discrepancies in the accounts and the functioning of the association.
On being contacted earlier, the TTFI general secretary MP Singh, had said that the federation was "closely monitoring" the developments and will intervene when necessary.
After Duvarah’s visit, Singh told this reporter that just recommendations will not earn Duvarah a clean chit.
“A few rules had been broken while constituting the new body of ATTA and we will have to look into the reason behind those discrepancies. A man cannot be a general secretary for more than three consecutive terms no matter how favourable he is to the members. The association should be beyond favouritism,” Singh said.
It may be mentioned here that Duvarah has remained the secretary of ATTA for four terms since 2009 and has been elected again in the recently concluded AGM even though he is not even eligible to file nomination for this post.
Meanwhile, Pranabananda Das, the representative from District Sports Association (DSA), Silchar, who was thrown out of the AGM meeting on April 29, levelled allegations against Duvarah of siphoning off OIL’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds to ATTA.
“Most of the sports associations are suffering from dearth of money. Even Assam Cricket Association is under huge debt and so is the scenario with most other sports’ associations which are suffering from dearth of funds due to lack of aid from the government.
But ATTA has the luxury to hold meetings at luxurious hotels and arrange for 3-star accommodations whenever any of the association members travel with the players. This is because of the OIL CSR funds that the association receives through Duvarah,” Das told G Plus.
It may be mentioned that Duvarah is one of the members of the OIL’s committee that provides CSR funds; the committee includes the managing director as well.
According to an insider at OIL, for the last six months, Duvarah has been holding on to a cheque amounting to Rs 3 lakhs provided by OIL to the association.
Duvarah however, could not be contacted. G Plus tried to personally meet, call him and reach him through text messages. But despite several attempts, Duvarah chose to be evasive.
Holding district tournaments without district associations
In order to hold district sports tournaments, a state association needs to involve the respective district associations. But such is not the case with the Assam Table Tennis Association (ATTA) which does not have any affiliated district associations.
In the chain of affiliations, the International Table Tennis Federation stands at the top with which all the country associations, in this case, the Table Tennis Federation of India, has to be affiliated. All the state associations, in this case ATTA, need to be affiliated under TTFI and all the district associations need to be affiliated with the state associations, in this case, ATTA.
“Barring a few, ATTA does not have associations that are dedicated to the sport affiliated with it. Most are either clubs or district sports’ associations that look after other sporting disciplines besides table tennis. Constituting a state body without any district association may put serious questions on the credibility of the association as sports clubs, being non-affiliated entities, may have vested interests,” said Kaushik Kumar Phukan, a former table tennis player and a representative from Nagaon Table Tennis Association who was disqualified in the April AGM.
Lack of district associations also hampers the overall development of the sport at the grassroots level, Phukan said.
“Besides holding sports events, another function of the district associations is to nurture, impart training, identify young talents and promote them to perform on bigger platforms. While clubs are mostly confined to earning profits, general district associations manage several other sports and hence, fail to concentrate on players of one particular sport. The district associations also build an environment of competition.
The district champions have to win at the state level competitions and then get to represent the state in national competitions and thereafter, hold a fighting chance to be included in the Indian team for international matches. Without district associations working at the grassroots level, such talents from poor backgrounds fail to get those opportunities,” Phukan added.
For the time being however, a former table tennis player alleged that everything is run by “managing” the ATTA members. “I am aware of (secretary Tridib) Duvarah taking favours - monetary and otherwise - from the parents of several players in return for providing opportunities to play in national competitions from the state,” the former player, under condition of anonymity, said.