Aiyar softens stand, invites IOA to ''settle'' issues

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New Delhi, Oct 10 (UNI) Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar today virtually offered an olive branch to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) by inviting the national apex body to come to negotiating table and settle ''any isues'' with the ministry on the vexed Draft National Sports Policy.

''We can settle any issue if they (IOA and affiliate sports federations) give constructive solutions. I have an open mind. But so far, the IOA and the National Sports Federations (NSFs) have not directly approched us on the Draft Policy,'' Aiyar told reporters at the sidelines of a sports facility foundation laying ceremony here.

Interestingly, IOA president Suresh Kalmadi, who was to attend the ceremony as a special guest, did not turn up.

While seemingly coming down a bit on the confrontation between the ministry and IOA, Aiyar did not stop from coming down hard on the latter for shying away from coming face to face on the Draft policy.

The ministry had put up the Draft Policy on its website and had invited any interested body or individual or stakeholders to give suggestions.

The two main issues of confrontation between the ministry and the IOA were the proposed Sports Regulatory Authority to oversee the national sports bodies and transfer of the subject of sports to Concurrent List from the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

''We have received valuable inputs and suggestions from various quarters and stakeholders except the IOA and National Sports Federations. They have shied away from meeting the sports ministry officials but have been issuing statements in the media.

''I am ready to discuss any issue but only when they give constructive solutions instead of saying that the 'babus' at the sports ministry are a bunch of cartoon characters,'' a combative Aiyar said after laying foundation stone of Thyagaraj Sports Complex, one of the upcoming facilities for the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.

''They were to discuss with us today (October 10) but at the last minute they said because of Dusshera and Diwali, they are not in a position to schedule a meeting.

''I will wait for them to come for a discussion and am willing to sort out issues,'' he added.

Aiyar though said the wait could not be very long and he would present the Draft Policy to the Cabinet and press for the implementation of the same before the end of this year ''so that millions of countrymen, especially common men, can benefit from the policy''.

While addressing a gathering after the foundation laying ceremony Aiyar said the construction work for the 2010 Commonwealth Games was going on schedule.

''In so far as Commonwealth Games is concerned, I can assure you that everything is going on schedule. DDA, Delhi Government and Sports Authority of India (SAI) who are the prime bodies for the task will complete construction work in time,'' Aiyar said in presence of Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, her cabinet colleagues and Commonwealth Games Federation Chief Executive Officer Mike Hooper.

UNI

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