The Indian Olympic Association has asked its member units to stay away from all meetings organised by the Sports Authority of India and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports regarding the Khelo India programme until further notice.

In a letter written to all member units, IOA president Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra called for a meeting of all member units to discuss issues related to Khelo India and SAI’s Guidelines on Talent Search and Development.

“I will strongly recommend that no member unit of IOA should meet with SAI/MYAS for anything concerning Khelo India Programme until the real intentions of the present setup in SAI/MYAS becomes abundantly clear to us,” he said in the mail, a copy of which is with The Field.

Batra insisted that SAI and the Sports Ministry were resorting to divide-and-rule tactics and member units should not allow them to interfere in the national federations’ independence and autonomy.

In his communication with the member units, Batra has also shared an email chain between him and Deputy Director-General of SAI, Sandeep Pradhan, over the formation of Khelo India’s High Powered Committee for Talent Identification and the guidelines for the same, and his response to the concerned officer stating that he would only communicate henceforth with Director General, SAI, Secretary Sports or above.

IOA and SAI have been at loggerheads over allocation of resources for the programme ever since the inaugural Khelo India School Games were held in New Delhi in January-February.

“Some NSFs feel that Khelo India is a waste of resources and a duplication of efforts. Many hold their own junior tournaments in addition to the national School Games conducted by the School Games Federation of India. Much of the talent that comes through these meets get shortlisted for funding and many names coincided with the names that were on the Khelo India list. In such a case, what was the point of shelling out so much money?” said a source who has been closely involved in the discussions.

Batra and Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore recently expressed conflicting opinions on the funding of IOA and national federations.

While Rathore asked the IOA and sports federations to become “financially independent” and look to generate their own revenue, the IOA president felt that no sports body can afford to send players for multi sports events without the financial support of the Ministry.

The Field also reached out to Neelam Kapur, Director General, SAI, for a response on the same but was unable to contact her. This story shall be updated as and when a response is received.