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BAI takes on Sports Ministry; rejects funds, govt observer

New Delhi: The stand-off between the
Badminton Association of India and the Sports Ministry has
now become a full-blown war with a defiant BAI pulling out all
stops to prevent the appointment of a government observer at
its June 13 elections in Chennai.

At loggerheads with the Ministry over its upcoming
elections, BAI has become the first National Sports Federation
after the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) to claim financial
self-sufficiency and refuse government aid.

After the controversy over Ministry`s tenure-limitation
guidelines started, the Indian Olympic Association -- the
parent body of the NSFs -- had refused government funding.

"We are self sufficient. We do not need any funds from
the government in future. We have lined up a lot of sponsors,"
BAI President V K Verma, who has been in office for
the past 12 years and is currently in London, told reporters.

But despite its refusal to accept government funds in
future, it is unclear whether BAI would be able to keep the
Ministry at bay come June 13.

"... even if BAI were to be become financially
independent, it does not mean that it could treat government
as an outsider as sports is a public good and sports
development is a public service and therefore, no sports
federation can claim that it can act as a private body without
public accountability," Joint Secretary (Sports) Injeti
Srinivas stated in a letter to Verma.

BAI`s opposition notwithstanding, the Ministry has
appointed Director (Sports) Deepika Kachhal as the observer
for the AGM threatening the body with de-recognition in case
of non-compliance with government regulations.

"Please note that Government recognisation to any
NSFs is subject to compliance with the Government guidelines
for such recognition. It would, therefore, be necessary for
you to comply with the government guidelines, which require
that a recognised NSF must inform government well in advance
about its General Body and other meetings where decisions on
important matters are taken, including the elections of office
bearers," Srinivas had said in his letter.

The entire drama started after former cricket captain
Mohd Azharuddin announced his candidature for the BAI
President`s post in the upcoming elections.

The candidature of the tainted cricketer, who is serving
a life ban for alleged match-fixing, met with strong protest
within BAI and at last count 25 state associations were
reportedly opposed to it.

"Anybody aspiring to contest has to be an office
bearer of any of the state units, which Mr Azharuddin is not.
Moreover, I have received written proposals and calls state
units who have questioned his eligibility to contest since he
is serving a life ban by BCCI, which is also a national
federation," Verma had said when the 47-year-old announced his
candidature.

Azharuddin`s candidature is among the top issues to be
discussed in the June 13 AGM.

A miffed Sports Ministry claimed as per norms, the
association should have informed it about these details.

Azharuddin is seen to have the Ministry`s backing but the
former captain has denied it although he has supported the
controversial tenure-limitation guidelines for NSF and IOA
office-bearers.

"It is a good move by the government. I think the current
administrators have also contributed but having said that, the
government`s guidelines should also be followed and there
should be a change," he had said.

The Sports Ministry`s feud with BAI is a part of the
continuing tug of war with the NSFs which are opposed to the
new tenure guidelines limiting the President`s term to a
maximum of 12 years.

The NSFs and the IOA got the International Olympic
Committee and the Olympic Coucnil of Asia`s backing on the
matter, which warned the Ministry against implementing the
guidelines as it could lead to India`s ouster from the Olympic
movement.

The Ministry then sought a meeting with the IOC to sort
out the matter and that is expected to be held in 10 days time
in Laussane, Switzerland.

PTI

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