Taken aback by the criticism from Federation heads, Sports Minister MS Gill on Tuesday hit back saying that they want unlimited tenures which don't exist even in the International Olympic Council (IOC).
"I guess the current protest is frankly because my friends (in federations) want unlimited tenures which don't exist even in IOC and most major sports federations in the world," said Gill.
The new regulation suggests National Sports Federation (NSF) presidents, which includes long-standing Indian Olympic Association chief Suresh Kalmadi, cannot occupy the post for more than 12 years, with or without break, while secretaries and treasurers can serve eight years at a stretch and can seek a re-election only after a four-year gap.
"We studied the International Olympic Council (IOC) regulation and they require their president to have a 12-year term in total, no more, and to retire at 70.
"Therefore, our NSF presidents can continue for 12 years even continuous. What more could we do?" Gill asked. Gill's question is important from the perspective as to how much time is required to make an impact in a particular field. Also, the age of upto 70 for people managing sports itself is questionable.
The Minister said the new regulation has the backing of all political parties and is in fact a softer version of the original 1975 guideline.
"On April 22, there was a full debate on my ministry in the Rajya Sabha and all parties, barring none, urged me to have the regulation to limit terms (of the sports administrators), this being the demand of the sports people and the public for long," Gill said.
"I studied the issue with my officers and gave a considered order which should be read and re-read for total understanding," he said.
Gill said all he did was to bring back an old regulation and in fact relaxed the norm to allow NSF presidents to continue for 12 years, instead of eight suggested by the original guideline.
"I have only restored the regulation of the Indira Gandhi government. For the sake of the federation office-bearers, I have in fact softened the regulation and it's milder than the 1975 direction," he said.
The Minister also pointed out that the regulation doesn't mean the NSF office-bearers who have overstayed have to vacate the positions right now.
"We have also made it clear in the order that no one is to be disturbed right now. Elected office-bearers can carry on with their term. The regulation will apply from future elections, as and when they occur," he said.
Apart from IOA President Suresh Kalmadi, the regulation seeks to end the more than a decade-old reign of VK Malhotra (archery), Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (cycling), VK Verma (badminton), Captain Satish K Sharma (aero club) and B S Adityan (volleyball).
According to the regulation, Kalmadi, who has been at the IOA helm since 1996, can continue till the 2012 when the next election of the association takes place. However, Kalmadi has made noises about timing citing that this may hinder in preparations for 2010 Commonwealth Games. Apparently, there should not be any impact except that Mr Kalmadi would be worried about free lunches that come with such posts.
Later, speaking outside the Parliament, Gill said the new regulation will have no impact on the Commonwealth Games. "We have made it clear that all office bearers (sports bodies) continue their work and as and when future elections come which are mainly in 2012, 2013 and 2014, these regulations will apply," Gill said.