The All India Chess Federation's (AICF) five-member committee, which is currently running its day-to-day affairs, on Wednesday criticised secretary Vijay Deshpande for spreading "false information" and accused him of using the national body's letterhead despite a restraining order against him.
Secretary and convenor of the five-member panel Naresh Sharma took strong objections to Despande's recent statement against the decisions taken by the AICF general body meeting held online recently. "It may kindly be noted that there is a restraining order by the General Body to not use any of the AICF letterhead, website or any other legal AICF papers against (President) PR Venkatrama Raja, Deshpande and Kishore Bandekar as per the decisions taken in the online live meeting of the General Body on April 22," Sharma said.
"Yet, Deshpande has used the AICF letterhead claiming himself to be secretary and distributed another set of false information to the media," he alleged. Stating that appropriate action will be taken by AICF in due course against the violator, the federation also sought to clarify some issues raised by Deshpande.
Dismissing the claim that the April 22 meeting was illegal, Sharma said, "They have claimed the meeting to be illegal, we ask them why and on what grounds? The notices were sent. We had as many as 23 states participating in the online meeting and there were 44 people from various AICF affiliated units who attended the meeting." Sharma also said that to be able to work under a democratic process, the general body decided to appoint a five-member committee to run the day-to-day affairs of AICF.
He said issues regarding disaffiliation of Bengal Chess Association and All Maratha Chess Association were discussed for a long time, adding that it was the decision of the general body to disaffiliate the two state state units. The AICF has been split into two factions -- led by Venkatrama Raja and Bharat Singh Chauhan, which has been at loggerheads over various issues including the elections. Raja had made Deshpande the secretary in place of Chauhan last month.
Taking a dig at the Raja faction for making Deshpande the AICF signatory with Indian Bank's Chennai branch, Sharma said, "One important question which they have failed to answer concretely surrounds the signature of Deshpande sent to Indian Bank, Chennai, as the new signatory of AICF." Sharma also wanted know how it was made possible for Deshpande to give his signature to the bank during the nationwide coronavirus-forced lockdown.
He also hit out at Raja, saying: "The AICF, should be for the players and we believe in this. The release by Deshpande, who is himself appointed illegally only goes to prove that the faction under Raja is going against the wishes of General Body." Deshpande, in a media release on April 23, termed the online general body meeting as unconstitutional. He said Chauhan was trying to tarnish Raja and his supporters image before the Sports Ministry and FIDE (world chess federation) after his faction was routed in the AICF polls.
Sharma, however, said it was decided at the April 22 general body meeting to approach the Sports Ministry to conduct the AICF elections. "We have written to the ministry to have the AICF elections as soon as possible in order to clear the air about who is for chess and who is not," he added.