Bhaichung Bhutia, a former captain of India, expressed his dismay on Saturday at the “high level” of political intervention in the All India Football Federation (AIFF) elections, which didn’t go as well as he had hoped.
Bhutia was defeated in the race for president by BJP leader and former goalkeeper Kalyan Chaubey.
The 45-year-old Bhutia has dabbled in politics; he ran unsuccessfully for state assembly and Lok Sabha seats in 2014 and 2016, respectively, on the TMC ticket. He also established the Hamro Sikkim Party in his home state. However, he argued that only football-related issues should have been debated at the AIFF elections, free from any “political meddling.”
“I was surprised because I did not anticipate that the amount of political meddling (in the AIFF elections) would be that high. I genuinely wanted to contribute because I believed that this was a football president election,”
Although Bhutia did not use the name of the federal minister, Manvendra Singh, the president of the Rajasthan State Association, claimed on Friday that Kiren Rijiju, the minister of law, was present at the hotel and instructed the guests to vote against the former India captain.
One of the country’s all-time great players, Bhutia, expressed his confusion at a central minister spending so much time with voters the night before the AIFF elections, albeit he did not accuse Rijiju of doing so.