The chief of Rajasthan Football Association (RFA), Manvendra Singh has claimed that Kiren Rijiju, a Cabinet Minister of Law and Justice, visited the hotel where the state football association members were staying in order to convince the electoral college to vote against Bhaichung Bhutia in the AIFF Presidential elections.
According to Singh, this had a big role to play in Kalyan Chaubey's landslide victory against his former teammate.
On Friday, 2 September, Chaubey defeated Bhutia by a staggering 33-1 margin to become the first footballer-turned-president in the 85-year history of the All India Football Federation.
With him being a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Chaubey was always being touted as the favourite to win the elections.
However, Manvendra Singh claimed that the external political influence over the elections reached its pinnacle on Thursday night when Rijiju visited the hotel in Dwarka, where the state associations' members were staying, around 10pm and stayed back till post-midnight.
"There was sustained political pressure, but it culminated last night when a Union Minister visited the hotel in Dwarka, where the member associations’ representatives were staying, exhorting them to vote against Bhaichung," he said, while speaking exclusively to The Quint.
Dark Day for Indian Football: Manvendra Singh
On being asked about the result, Singh claimed, "It is shattering. You expect people to exercise their judgment. They had an option, and it was to select a former player (as the AIFF President) for the first time. You cannot find a better player than him (Bhaichung Bhutia) for this choice."
"The administrators (state association representatives) did not exercise their choice for the good of Indian football but for other reasons, which includes political pressure. It is a shame, a sad day for Indian football. I think this is a dark day for Indian football because you can only go downhill from here, you cannot improve," he further added.