Barely three months after defying the government's age limit guidelines and being elected Hockey India president, Vidya Stokes created a flutter on Wednesday by resigning with immediate effect.
The 83-year-old's resignation was announced through a statement by Hockey India, which claimed that the decision was in accordance with her commitment made to the Sports Minister to step down after the Commonwealth Games.
Stokes, however, gave a different reason when contacted, saying she was busy with her political career and could not spare enough time for hockey.
"I have to travel a lot because of my political career and I cannot find the time. That is why I have decided to step down," Stokes said.
But the Hockey India statement said she had apprised the sports minister of her intentions to quit as early as February when she was serving as interim president.
"This is as per her commitment made to the Union Sports Minister at the inauguration of the High Altitude Synthetic Pitch at Shilaroo, Himachal Pradesh, in February this year," the statement read.
"Stokes had said then that she would step down as president only after the Commonwealth Games as India was the host for these prestigious Games," the statement added.
Surprisingly, Stokes's promise to Sports Minister M S Gill to quit as early as February was never made public even during the time of the election.
Her surprise resignation has now paved the way for a younger administrator to take charge. It is being widely interpreted as a move to appease the Sports Ministry, which had derecognised Hockey India for flouting its age guidelines.
Stokes tendered her resignation to secretary-general Narinder Batra and asked him to discharge all duties of president as an interim measure till necessary arrangements are made by the Hockey India Executive
Board and ratified by the General Council.
Stokes won an acrimonious election earlier in August after beating former Olympian Pargat Singh by a 41-21 margin.
The sports ministry had issued show-cause notices to both Hockey India (HI) and the KPS Gill-led Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) asking the two bodies to clarify as to how they proposed meet the guidelines of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and the government.
In its show-cause notice to Hockey India, the ministry asked it to explain before election why the government should not derecognise it in the wake of the federation's declaration before Delhi high court that it is a private body.
While in another notice to the IHF, the ministry gave the KPS Gill-led body 14 days time to explain as to how it proposes to meet the FIH as well as government's guidelines if it wished to run the sport in the country.
But in the August 27 order, the apex court had directed that the teams would be selected and sponsored by HI with the assistance of the IOA for the Commonwealth Games while the IHF was kept out of the process.
Hockey India received another shot in the arm when the Supreme Court permitted it to select and send teams to the Asian Games in the same manner as the body did for the Commonwealth Games after the court's clearance.
Though the IHF had conceded the ground for Hockey India temporarily for
selection and sponsoring the teams for the Commonwealth Games and Asiad, it was not ready to yield and wanted it to be decided by the apex court finally.
In a bid to get the matter resolved mutually rather than agitating in the court, the bench suggested that Hockey India, the Indian Hockey Federation and Indian Olympic Association sit together with the Sports Ministry to resolve the dispute.