AICF factions caught in ugly tussle between secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan, joint-secretary Atanu Lahiri
Express News Service
CHENNAI: The All India Chess Federation (AICF) is caught in the middle of an ugly tussle between two factions with no imminent solution in sight. The protagonists are secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan and joint-secretary Atanu Lahiri and both have traded charges and counter-charges against each other over the last couple of years.
On Saturday, Lahiri — who was issued a show-cause notice in AICF’s last Annual General Meeting (AGM) last month — came up with fresh allegations against Chauhan in Kolkata. At the AGM, the AICF also disaffiliated the already suspended Bengal Chess Association — where Atanu’s brother Shantanu is president — and gave affiliation to Sara Bangla Daba Sangsthan, leading to further bitterness between the two camps.
Lahiri has shared his grievances with Chauhan in an email written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The email, which is in possession of this daily, makes a series of allegations against Chauhan including misuse of AICF’s funds.
“There are plenty of corrupt things that Chauhan has done as administrator. But I will be very specific. He has allocated Rs 3 crore for AICF to purchase an office in Delhi. What is the need for this? The AICF is registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Act and has an office in Chennai. He is misusing the money that has actually been contributed by the players. And if he wants to have an office in Delhi because he lives there, he can have a smaller office. What is the need to allocate Rs 3 crore for a property? They passed this hurriedly in their AGM in June. The AICF has become a one-man show where he takes all the decisions,” Lahiri alleged while speaking to this daily on Saturday.
Chauhan brushed aside the allegation and mentioned that Lahiri was very much present when the decision to have a new office in Delhi was taken at the general body meeting in February this year.
“In February 2021, we had a general body meeting where he was there. The president proposed that we should have our own premises in Delhi. Most of the national federations have their offices in Delhi. At the AGM, the budget of Rs 3 crore was allocated and it was approved unanimously. The Delhi office that was there earlier was a rented property and was not at an ideal location. We want to move the office to a better location,” he reasoned.
Chauhan alleged that it is Lahiri who was guilty of financial irregularities in the past and that he was subsequently pulled up by the federation.
“In 2018, there was a national sub-junior championship in Kalyani. He was the organising secretary of the event. There were various financial irregularities. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) found that there was a forgery of accounts during that tournament. The SAI asked us to pay Rs 10 lakh as a result. Since it was going to take time for the Bengal association to give that amount, the AICF had to pay that amount. But since it was their mistake, it was their responsibility to pay the amount. That is why we issued him a showcause notice,” he said.
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