In a stinging letter to Union sports minister Kiren Rijiju, Rowing Federation of India (RFI) president Rajlaxmi Singh Deo has complained against “discourteous and disrespectful behaviour” allegedly displayed by Union sports secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya against her and the RFI at a recent meeting.

The meeting, chaired by the sports secretary, was held on 18 June to discuss the Annual Calendar for Training & Competition (ACTC).

Listing her grievances against Julaniya, Deo has sought the sports minister’s intervention in the matter.

In her letter dated 20 June to the minister, she stated that the meeting did not discuss its agenda, even as the sports secretary, she charged, gave a slew of “diktats” and made “many derogatory remarks against the Federation and a personal attack against me”.

The RFI chief alleged that during the meeting Julaniya charged that the RFI was a “useless NSF (National Sports Federation) and has not done anything in their 35 years of existence” and “threatened to de-recognise the RFI”.

She said the secretary remarked that “fishermen should be brought into the sport, wherever water bodies are available” and that there should be 440 rowing centres out of the 660 districts of India, but the ministry would not release funds for setting them up.

Deo alleged, in her letter to Rijiju, that the secretary even threatened that “he would direct the IOA (Indian Olympic Association) to dissolve the present RFI and appoint an Ad hoc Committee to run the Federation”.

“When I brought to his (secretary’s) attention that coaching camps of adequate duration has not been sanctioned by SAI (Sports Authority of India) and my Women Team was not in a position to participate in the World Championships due to lack of preparation and cash crunch, I was called a ‘liar’,” she alleged.

Deo said when the achievements of the RFI including a “total of 190 international medals to its credit” was highlighted, Julaniya claimed this was a result of the “rowers” efforts and not the RFI’s work.

Maintaining that the secretary’s alleged high-handed bahaviour was “unacceptable” to her and the RFI, she said: “The Secretary Sports, through the SAI, is mandated to be a facilitator. He is not the competent authority to direct me and my office-bearers how to govern our Federation.”

Urging Rijiju to “advise the Secretary Sports to understand the nuances of each sport before commenting and issuing such diktats”, Deo said the RFI will boycott the next ACTC meeting to be chaired by Julaniya “unless the Secretary tenders an unconditional apology for his discourteous and insulting behaviour and changes his attitude towards elected office-bearers of a priority medal winning sport”.

Speaking to The Statesman, Deo said she has not got any response from the sports minister over her complaint so far. She, however, today received a show-cause notice from the sports ministry asking why should the RFI be not “de-recognised” as its website has not been updated in the month of June.

“This is not such a serious charge that they should send a show-cause notice for derecognition,” she said.

“We have been able to set up 40 rowing centres on our own. This is also a big achievement. But the secretary said that we should have set up 440 centres. That is a tall order. One centre costs at least one crore rupees. The secretary asked me to get a rich person elected in my position who would be in a position to provide the funds. This is shocking,” Deo said.

Lamenting about the lack of funds, she also said the sanctions for the coaching camps have been pending before the SAI for months. The sports secretary could not be reached for his comments.