Our objective to make BCCI transparent: Maken

Zeenews Sports Bureau

New Delhi: After cabinet had rejected the proposed sports development bill in its current form, sports minister Ajay Maken revealed that his only objective was to make all the sports bodies in the country more transparent.

But BCCI later in the day strongly replied saying, the minister was not aware of the "ground realities" as they have already adopted transparency measures.

BCCI vice president Rajiv Shukla retorted back, saying that the board`s accounts are already in the public domain through their website.

"He (Maken) should find out what`s happening at the ground level. He does not know anything. All the information is already on our website. There is no question of hiding or concealing anything. After every AGM, our accounts details are given to media, he said.

Maken, who had been told by his cabinet colleagues to rework the bill on Tuesday, tweeted hours after the bill got rejected, “We do not want to be intrusive; but want BCCI and others to be transparent and efficient."

Later talking to the reporters, Maken said that the BCCI must come under the RTI act because they enjoy certain benefits from the government directly or indirectly.

“We are not saying that they should be accountable to government, but they must be accountable to the people of the nation because they enjoy certain benefits at the expanse of the taxpayers’ money,” said the sports minister.

“BCCI does not have to pay entertainment tax; they don’t pay for the security provided during the matches by the government. Even the lands for the stadiums they use are generally given to them free of cost,” added Maken.

“So people have the right to know what is happening in the BCCI. People should know certain things because, at the end of the day, their team represents the country.”

A controversial bill, aimed at regulating the functioning of national sports federations and putting an age limit on their bosses, on Tuesday failed to go through Cabinet due to stiff resistance by a number of ministers.

At the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the National Sports Development Bill was discussed and a number of ministers raised objections, sources had said.

Subsequently, it had been decided that the bill should be re-worked by the Sports Ministry before it could be again considered.

Shukla also said BCCI has nothing to hide as it had always paid taxes well in advance.

"The Finance Minister yesterday told Parliament that BCCI has paid Rs 249 crore as tax. All our office bearers are honorary, the stadiums are for people and not for the Associations. Officials do not own stadiums, they come and go. We pay to Police for security," he said.

"We are not opposed to the Bill. But he should talk to the sports administrators. There are 2-3 issues have we have reservations," he added.

Asked about exemptions that BCCI and IPL get from the government, Shukla said, "IPL franchisees are paying taxes. I think he (Maken) is not aware. There is no confrontation between the government and the BCCI. We honour the decision of the Cabinet. Everything is in public domain."

The bill had sought to bring in revolutionary changes in the functioning of sports bodies in the country, which included putting an age limit of 70 years and tenure restrictions besides bringing these bodies under RTI.

Sources had said that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram supported the bill but Sharad Pawar, Kapil Sibal, Praful Patel, Kamal Nath and Farooq Abdullah were opposed to it.

One of the ministers had strong reservation on the age restriction clause and had said age was a very subjective issue.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and several other Ntional Sports Federations had vehemently opposed the bill since the drafting stage, saying it was an attempt to interfere in the functioning of the bodies.

The IOA had also said that the move was against the Olympic charter and India could be banned from international sports events if the government tried to curb their autonomy.

Cricket administrators had also reacted sharply to the proposed bill which sought to put it under the purview of the RTI.

The bill, had it been cleared by the Cabinet on Tuesday, would have been introduced in the Parliament in the ongoing monsoon session itself and could have had a bearing on the tenures of several seasoned administrators like Suresh Kalmadi, V K Malhotra, Yashwant Sinha, Jagdish Tytler and Virendra Nanavati who have been at the helm of their respective federations for decades.

It could also have brought the cash-rich BCCI under its fold though cricket adminstrators maintained that it would not be binding on the Board which does not take any grant from the government.

Sports Minister Maken had on Monday said that the Bill once passed in the Parliament would bring in more accountability in the functioning of the NSFs.

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