New Delhi: Projected as an outsider by the
ruling camp, cricketer-turned-politician Mohammad Azharuddin
today fired a salvo at Badminton Association of India
President VK Verma, saying the BAI chief is not eligible for
re-election and should gracefully walk away having played a
Azhar referred to the Sports Ministry guidelines which
fix the terms of a National Sports Federation president to 12
years and said it`s time to go for Verma, having been at BAI`s
helm for as many years.
"Verma has not challenged the validity of the Government
guidelines in any court of law and, as such, is bound by the
same and ineligible for a re-election," Azhar told PTI from
"The government guidelines are binding on all. Even an
Indian Olympic Association resolution (rejecting the
guidelines) cannot nullify it. It is binding on every
federation. Having been a government official himself, Verma
should have known it better," Azhar said.
The Ministry guideline in question has the sports
administrators up in arms, claiming it an infringement of
their autonomy and the issue has now snowballed into a crisis
with the International Olympic Committee set to discuss it
later this month.
Verma not only refused to entertain a Government observer
for the election but also claimed that BAI had become
self-sufficient and would no more require government funding.
In such a backdrop, Sunday`s BAI election in Chennai
assumes even more importance and the involvement of Azhar, a
former Indian cricket captain and a Congress MP from
Moradabad, rendered it quite a high-profile poll for a rather
The ruling camp questioned Azhar`s eligibility to fight
in the BAI election and doesn`t even consider him a serious
threat either but the former cricketer, working overtime to
canvass support, promised to spring a surprise on Sunday.
"I can tell you that 30 out of the 35 voting units are
aggrieved by Verma`s action in his open defiance against the
Government of India," said Azhar, whose seriousness to contest
the election could be gauged from the fact that he cut short a
parliamentary delegation`s trip to Europe to return home and
"Contrary to what others are saying, I`m optimistic about
my prospects. I never harbour negative thoughts. I`m
essentially a sportsman and I want to do something for
badminton. I have no vested interest in BAI and all I want is
to encourage the youth, do something for the youth. I don`t
know why people should have problems with a sportsperson
wanting to join sports administrations.”
"Come on, I have played cricket at the highest level and
have a fair idea of international sports. People don`t want me
in because they have seats to cling on to.”
"Verma had a long innings, he should be happy with that
and move on. I don`t think anyone can break his record," Azhar
One of country`s most successful cricket captains and one
of the most elegant batsmen of his era, Azhar also questioned
Verma`s decision not to take government fund.
"I don`t believe this self-sufficient thing. The
government has been funding all their trips for so many years
and now all of a sudden he says BAI doesn`t want government
"Even the Olympic Charter says federations should work in
harmony with the government but here the BAI President is
taking on the government. I don`t know how federations would
survive without government support," he said.
"I want to make it clear that I have nothing personal
against anyone and all I want is to do something for
badminton," he said.
Asked if he was finding it a tougher battle than winning
the Lok Sabha seat from Moradabad, a philosophical Azhar said,
"Everything is tough, nothing comes easy in life. You have to
fight your way out and I`m doing that."