In a press conference following his landslide victory against Bhaichung Bhutia in the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) Presidential election, Kalyan Chaubey was questioned about the alleged political involvement in the election procedure.
The former goalkeeper received 33 of the 34 votes on Friday, 2 September, with his ex-teammate Bhutia getting only one vote. Including Rajasthan Football Association's (RFA) chief Manvendra Singh, some view external political influence as the main reason behind Chaubey's victory. In his defence, however, the new AIFF President said "Can you name me one Federation where the Government or a political party is not involved?"
The 45-year-old is currently a part of the ruling party at the Centre - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). After the results were announced, Manvendra Singh claimed that Kiren Rijiju, Cabinet Minister of Law and Defence, visited the hotel where the state association members were staying on Thursday night, in a bid to convince them not to vote for Bhutia.
Chaubey denied such claims by saying "It is a complete lie. I deny his (Manvendra Singh) statement. Kiren Rijiju was there, but what is being said (Rijiju asking the voters to vote for Chaubey) is a lie."
"My first identity is a football player – this is something nobody will deny. So I don't know why this question (whether the election was politically influenced) is being asked," he further said.
Chaubey Explains Why He Contested Election With Gujarat’s Nomination
Despite hailing from West Bengal, Chaubey contested the election with Gujarat Football Association’s nomination. On being asked about whether this move was politically driven and why he did not contest the elections from West Bengal’s (Indian Football Association) nomination, he replied “This question should be asked to them, not me.”
“I assume that former senior vice-president Subrata Dutta was one of the Presidential candidates and they (IFA) had reserved their nomination for him. I was fortunate enough to get a nomination from Gujarat. Of late, Gujarat is doing wonderful in terms of football and other sports development," he concluded.
After being placed under a three-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) AIFF was suspended by FIFA last month for 'undue third party influence' over its operations.
On being asked the possibility of any alleged political involvement resulting in a similar suspension, Chaubey said "What is the third-party? For the last nineteen months, there was no elected committee in AIFF, only the Committee of Administrators (CoA) which has nothing to do with the elected panel."