Former athletes support of Sports Bill

New Delhi: Sports Minister Ajay Maken`s proposal to enact the National Sports Development Bill on Thursday got the backing of former athletes who have expressed their support for the contentious bill.

The Bill was rejected on Wednesday by the Cabinet, with several Union Ministers expressing strong concerns about its provisions, which prompted a few sportspersons to launch a nation-wide `Save the Sports Bill` campaign.

It will be first set up in the National Capital Region (NCR) before spreading to different parts of the country.

"We would like to express our complete support to you in your efforts to steer this long pending legislation. The efforts made by you and your ministry in bringing about the change in sports management is laudable," BVP Rao of Clean Sports India said while reading out a statement.

A copy of the statement has been sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, he said.

"We have decided that till the bill is passed by the parliament, we will be after them in a democratic way," Rao added.

Maken, meanwhile, said that his ministry was willing to remove the clauses in the proposed bill which the sports federations object to but made it clear that removing them was no compromise.

"We do not intend to control sports federation. The debate is wide open, but I would like to thank sportspersons for their support. The idea is to have at least 25 per cent representation with voting rights for sportspersons in the executive committee of all federations," Maken said.

"The sportspersons should select among themselves (who should be in the executive committee)," he said.

Maken urged the sportspersons to try and convince those who are opposing the bill.

"We will take it forward. We will try and convince those who are opposing it. You should also try and make them understand," the sports minister said.

He, however, refused to comment on BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla`s statement which said that the sports minister was not aware of "ground realities" as the Board has already adopted transparency measures.

Maken and the BCCI have been at loggerheads over the sports minister`s proposal to bring the Cricket Board under the ambit of RTI.

Arjuna Awardee boxer Raj Kumar Sangwan, India`s first Asian Games medallist swimmer Khajan Singh, Asian champion in marathon Sunita Godara, former shooter Morad Ali Khan and former boxer and Arjuna awardee Mehtab Singh were some of the sportspersons who were present at the Sports Authority of India`s CGO Complex here for their support.

Reading out the statement, Rao said, "We reiterate that this bill once enacted would lay a solid foundation for transparency and accountability of management of sports in the country. Such a change of management of sports will have a positive affect on the sporting aspirations of millions of youths in our country who aspire to excel and bring laurels to our nation."

Sangwan said that those who want to take sports forward should support the bill.

Morad Ali clarified that it was a movement to support the federations and not go against them.

"It could be against a couple of individuals. Our job is support those people who are trying to clean the sport," Morad Ali said.


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