No breakthrough in Poonia issue, file with Sports Minister

Updated: Aug 21, 2013, 22:02 PM IST

New Delhi: Her case may be getting weaker with each passing day but a consensus is still awaited on discus thrower Krishna Poonia`s plea to be reconsidered for the country`s highest sporting honour, the Khel Ratna award, as the file is still with Sports Minister Jitendra Singh.

Though it is certain that Jitendra would stick to the original list list that was issued last week for the Khel Ratna and Arjuna awards, a top official in the Ministry today told PTI that a formal announcement on the controversial development is still awaited.

"The names are yet to be made official as the file is still with the sports minister," the official said.

The day saw ace shooter and Khel Ratna selection panel member Anjali Bhagwat saying that Poonia had called her to lobby for the top honour just a day before the committee met last week.

A miffed Bhagwat said it was not right on Poonia`s part to claim that it was she who got the list changed at the last moment to include double trap World Champion Ronjan Sodhi`s name in place of the discus thrower.

Poonia rubbished the allegations saying she was only raising her voice against the "injustice" meted out to her.

After the chorus for considering Poonia`s name for the Khel Ratna grew, Jitendra met his team yesterday but could not arrive at a final decision on a day which saw the athlete making her second visit in six days to the Sports Minister.

Suspense still remains over Poonia`s plea but the Sports Ministry has already indicated that there that there was likely to be no change in either the name recommended for the Khel Ratna award or the initial 15 names of sportspersons nominated for the Arjuna awards.

"There is no change in the initial list of athletes recommended for either Khel Ratna or Arjuna awards. Everything remains the same," the official had told.

Sodhi`s name was recommended for the Khel Ratna award last week, sparking a controversy with some members of the panel questioning the process of his selection.

A selection panel member had said that Poonia and London Paralympics silver medallist H N Girisha were shortlisted for voting by 11 out of 12 selection panel members and Sodhi`s name was not considered initially.

According to reports, the scenario, however, changed after Bhagwat came in late for the meeting and Girisha`s name was removed.

Eventually the voting was for the selection of either Sodhi and Poonia.

The award`s selection committee is headed by three-time billiards world champion Michael Ferreira and comprises former India hockey captain Zafar Iqbal, archer Limba Ram, cricketer Ravi Shastri and table tennis player Indu Puri amongst others.

Poonia, a 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, was upset that the committee ignored her for the Khel Ratna despite having support from some members.