Chennai, Aug 29 (IANS) Atanu Lahiri, Secretary, Bengal Chess Association (BCA), and Joint Secretary, All India Chess Federation (AICF), said on Thursday that India's second chess Grand Master (GM) and Arjuna Awardee Dibyendu Barua will face the consequences for levelling baseless charges him.
"In chess terms, it was a premature attack by Barua. He is jealous and frustrated. He levelled the charges against me knowing well that I am in China and won't be in a position to give a rebuttal," Lahiri, an International Master (IM), told IANS over phone from China, where he has gone as a coach of the Indian team participating in the World Cadet meet.
On August 27, a normally reticent Barua took the Indian chess world by surprise by levelling various charges against Lahiri, including misuse of power as BCA Secretary and conflict of interest with regard to a West Bengal government project to teach chess to tribal students in the state.
Barua, who runs a chess academy besides organising chess tournaments, said the AICF and the BCA withdrew the permission to hold a two-day chess meet for the youth since the West Bengal government decided to hand over a project implemented by Lahiri's company to the state chess association on his advice.
Barua also sent a formal complaint against Lahiri to the AICF.
"My major complaint against Lahiri is of conflict of interest. How can he assign a chess development project to his own company (Global Chess Foundation) for which the West Bengal government is giving a grant? He is also the Secretary of BCA," Barua told IANS over phone on Thursday.
Barua also said that since the state government was giving a grant, huge amounts were being withdrawn by way of cash by the officials of Global Chess Foundation (GCF).
According to Barua, the state government pays Lahiri a sum of Rs 25,000 as consultant fee.
Refuting the conflict of interest and the cash withdrawals charges, Lahiri said: "No grant is being given to GCF under the project. What is being paid is the remuneration. And how the remuneration is withdrawn from the bank -- cash or cheque -- should not concern others."
Tracing the genesis of the project, Lahiri said that in 2015, he had sent a proposal to the Department of Tribal Development, West Bengal government, to provide chess coaching to tribal students in the state.
"The proposal was sent in my personal capacity. Not as BCA Secretary," Lahiri said.
He said the West Bengal government had appointed him as a consultant to chalk out the programme and the training modalities and also choose a competent body to implement the chess training programme for the tribal students.
According to Lahiri, the BCA is a chess regulatory body and its aim is not to go to the schools and do business. On the other hand, GCF is a company doing business and is also involved in social work.
"As a result, GCF was chosen as the implementing body. The other two promoters of GCF are chess players Souvik Chakraborty and Antarip Roy," Lahiri said.
Continuing further, Lahiri said the West Bengal government pays a fixed sum on the basis of per student per class. The school principal has to vouch for the number of tribal students who attend the chess training classes and the number of classes held per month. Based on the certification by the school principal, the government releases the payment.
"We got the information that Barua wanted to take the project for himself. The Tribal Development Department said that everything is done in a fair manner. There was no enquiry by the state government. I had mailed to the government that from next month onwards, it should pay the BCA," Lahiri said.
According to Barua, reports of misuse of funds had reached the government and his views were sought by the concerned minister.
"I had suggested that the fund should go to BCA instead of a private company for better management and transparency. After that the government has decided to hand over the project to BCA," Barua said.
Lahiri also refuted Barua's allegation that his youth tournament was denied permission because of the action by the West Bengal government relating to the chess training for tribal students project.
"The permission was never given to Barua to hold the tournament. The tournaments of higher importance get the priority in getting permission. In Durgapur, there was a FIDE rated tournament to be organised on the same dates (November 2 and 3). It was a bigger tournament. Barua's event was only a two-day meet and hence permission was granted to the other organiser," Lahiri said.
"I had paid a sum of Rs 20,000 to AICF towards various fees for holding my tournament. The event was also listed on AICF and BCA websites. The AICF had first allotted the event code. Subsequently, the event listing was pulled down from the AICF website. I have been holding the tournament for the past 12 years. About 1,000 players take part in the event," Barua said.
On Lahiri's threat of bad times ahead, Barua remarked: "I have filed a complaint. If the consequences are bad for me, then I will face them. I brought the issue into the open as I felt it was wrong. But injustice cannot be meted out to an honest person for long."