New Delhi: Two-time Paralympics gold medallist Devendra Jhajharia is set be elected unopposed as the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) president in the delayed 9 March elections, succeeding another celebrated para athlete Deepa Malik.

The 42-year-old Jhajharia, who had won a gold medal each in the 2004 Athens and 2016 Rio Paralympics in the F46 disability category, was the only candidate who filed nomination papers for the PCI chief’s post till 1:30pm Thursday, which was the cut-off time.

Returning officer Umesh Sinha issued a list of candidates who had filed nomination papers for various posts, and Jhajharia was the lone name for the president’s post. In fact, there will be no contest for all the major posts and voting may only be held for the five posts of the executive committee members for which eight candidates have filed their nomination papers.

The PCI elections will be held for the posts of president, two vice-presidents, secretary general, treasurer, two joint secretaries and five executive committee members. PCI still remains suspended as far as the Sports Ministry is concerned though the world body, International Paralympic Committee (IPC), recognises it.

The ministry had suspended the PCI for delaying its elections as per the National Sports Development Code of India. Jhajharia, who hails from Rajasthan, also won a silver medal in the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021. He clinched a world championships gold in 2013 and a silver in 2015 (both F46 category) as well as a silver in the Asian Para Games in 2014.

He has many firsts to his name. He is the lone Padma Bhushan award winner (2022) among the para athletes, besides being the only Indian double Paralympics gold medallist.

He was awarded Khel Ratna in 2017 and was earlier conferred with the Arjuna Award (2004) and Padma Shri (2012). Outgoing president Deepa Malik was eligible to contest for the top post but she decided fighting against Jhajharia and is instead supporting him.

“I am supporting Jhajharia, he is also my candidate. I became the first para athlete to become PCI chief and now another one is going to do the same. Jhajharia is a Paralympics medallist, just like me, and I feel para sports in India is in safe hands,” Malik told PTI.

“I am very happy to be part of a culture in the Paralympic movement in India where para athletes administers their own sport.”

When Jhajharia becomes the PCI president on 9 March, both the heads of the national apex organisations of able-bodied and differently-abled athletes will be former athletes. Track legend PT Usha is currently serving as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president.

Jayawant Hammanawar, an international coach and referee from Goa, was the lone candidate for secretary general’s post as he filed his nomination papers on Thursday.

R Chandrashekhar and Satya Prakash Sangwan are set to be elected unopposed as the two vice-presidents, while Sunil Pradhan was the lone candidate for the treasurer’s post. Lalit Thakur and T Diwakara are set to be the two joint secretaries.

The eight candidates who are in the fray for the five executive committee members are: Sutapa Chakrabarty, Bhati Chandulal Tarachandji, Sandeep Kumar, Usha Manaki, Amrik Singh, Chandan Roy Choudhary, Shaminder Singh Dhillon and Singarapu Babu.

Outgoing PCI secretary general Gursharan Singh said he did not file nomination papers for the 9 March elections as he was “not eligible to contest as per the latest court orders”.

“No, I did not file nomination papers (for March 9 elections). Though I am eligible as per (Sports Code) guidelines, I am not eligible to contest as per the latest court orders,” Singh said.

The PCI elections will be held in the middle of Para Shooting World Cup, which offers Paris Paralympics quotas, at the Karni Singh Range from 6-15 March.

On 15 February, the suspended PCI announced that it will conduct its polls on 9 March.

The Sports Ministry had on 4 February suspended the body for not holding elections on time. The four-year term of PCI Executive Committee had ended on 31 January.

The ministry had even advocated forming an ad-hoc panel to run the day-to-day affairs of the sports body but the world governing body of the game, IPC, did not allow it.


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