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There's a scope to improve BCCI constitution: Pawar

G. Viswanath

  • Mr. Dalmiya told me that they have not paid any attention to the suggestions I made last year and that the time has come to work together
  • People in sporting activities should not act with prejudice

    MUMBAI: Union Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who has shown a keen interest in the affairs of the Board of the Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), talked about his passion for sports and youth welfare, association with Vijay Merchant, love for cricket and his ways of working with sports federations in an exclusive interview to `The Hindu' at his Silver Oaks Estate residence on Sunday.


    Q: Officials and followers of kabaddi, kho-kho and Maharashtra Olympic Association say that it's natural that you took the rural sports route and made a big impact in administration?

    A. When I started my career in public life, it was essentially through sports, students and youth activities. I was associated with the youth movement from 1958 through to the 1960s. It's all non-political. I was associated with Poona University's sports activities in athletics, kabaddi, kho-kho and cricket. In those days my college team was one of the best teams in cricket. After 1962 I started working with various sports organisations and became president of the wrestling, kabaddi, kho-kho federations and the State Olympic Association. My general attitude and approach to the sports movement was to provide them excellent infrastructure, and facilities and also employment for the sportspersons. I also made sure that the associations became financially sound. I decided to keep away from the process of selection, leaving that and other activities to the experts. Here I must say that someone like like `Bhua Salvi' has given his life to kabaddi. Then there has been Shyam Ashtekar, Yeshwantrao Gole, `Babukaka' Godbole and Haribhau Sane who have guided the association and me. In all my positions as Member of the State Legislature, Sports Minister, Chief Minister, leader of the opposition and Union Minister my work has been just to play the supporting role. I'm against politics in sports and I am pursuing all my sports related activities with interest and vigour. Since 1967 I am directly involved with rural sports activities. Now I am trying to develop a new younger leadership in whichever sport I am supporting. People are asking questions like why politicians are jumping into sports organisations. I strongly feel that sports activities in India requires government, administrative and most importantly financial support. In these areas I feel that the committed sportspersons have certain limitations. They know the game and they will devote themselves towards to the sport they play, but these poor people need assistance from the government when it comes to constructing stadiums and other facilities. They cannot take these types of responsibilities. That's why people like me associate themselves with sports.

    Taking part in the sports movement is fine, but it will be a big blunder if I interfere with selection policies. It will be harmful to sports. I have always believed that the experts should deal with sports and my job is to support them in the best possible way by creating infrastructure and a corpus fund.

    Q: It is said it's the socialist leader Mohan Dharia who persuaded you to take control of kabaddi?

    A: Yes, Dharia Saheb has also helped kabaddi, but the moment he decided to retire he and the committee requested me to take the responsibility. In those days I was part of kabaddi and other sports, but I was not the president of the State body.

    Q: It's been quite a late entry into cricket. You were elected president of the Mumbai Cricket Association in 2000.

    A: Well, cricket was one of the games I had a great passion for. I was never a cricket player. I have always been associated with the game, directly or indirectly in the good old days. I was a regular at Test matches in Bombay watching Test matches from the North Stand at CCI. I also saw the India-Australia Test match at Kanpur in 1959. It's here that I saw Jasu Patel bowl. I travelled by third class and stayed somewhere. Well, basically I had the liking for cricket. The interest further developed following my association with Mr. Vijay Merchant. My father-in-law (G. Sadhashiv Shinde) was a Test player. He died young and Mr. Merchant took the responsibility of looking after my wife's family. He organised a match, collected Rs. 5,000, in those days big money, and set up a small trust and looked after my father-in-law's family. Mr. Merchant was also associated with my marriage, taking all the responsibilities of my wife's side. Then we became practically family members. In fact Mr. Merchant and all his colleagues treated me like their son-in-law. Thereafter when Seshrao Wankhede decided to construct a new stadium, I was the Sports Minister of Maharashtra. I allotted the piece of land, signed the agreement and gave it to Mumbai Cricket Association. I also became a founder member. Those days, Wankhede saheb insisted that I should associate myself with cricket. And I used to tell him: "As long as you are there in MCA, we will stay out, but will extend support remaining outside.'' So I was helping MCA, but from behind the scene. After his death, some well-wishers came and told me that Wankhede saheb always used to say that Pawar saheb should ultimately take the responsibility. Initially I became the president of the Garware Club House. When I saw infighting and `court bhazi' between MCA and the Garware Club House, I felt it was not correct and must try to resolve the issue. I was always having dialogue with Manohar Joshi (Pawar's predecessor at MCA) and other colleagues. Eventually the MCA people also told me to contest so that disputes between the two could be sorted out and hatred removed. Both sides were spending lakhs and lakhs of money on litigation.

    Q: What's been your experience at the last two BCCI AGMs held in Kolkata?

    A: I think there should be camaraderie among the BCCI members. Unfortunately, there's too much, well I don't want to go into it...but people in sports activities should not act with prejudice. I would not like to say whether `A' or `B' is involved, but they are involved.

    Q: You said after the 76th AGM (adjourned) in Kolkata that you are against court cases and it affects the normal functioning of the BCCI?

    A: That's why, when I was defeated last year, I did not lose the election, because the Maharashtra vote was cancelled. Immediately after the election I congratulated Ranbir Singh Mahendra and suggested to him, Jagmohan Dalmiya and others that whatever has happened has happened with the court cases and we have to give serious thought to the BCCI constitution. I told them that , I am ready to cooperate and that I am not interested in arguing how you have won the election. I told them it's all a game you have won and I have accepted it and let's all work together. I was expecting them to take some initiative and corrective actions. But no one took that much interest. After the meeting was adjourned in Kolkata recently, Mr. Dalmiya told me that they have not paid any attention to the suggestions I made last year and that the time has come to work together.

    Q: You and Mr. Dalmiya attempted to work out a compromise formula in August. Are you disappointed it did not come through?

    A: It's not exactly a compromise formula we were trying to work out. It's true that some people talked to me. They suggested something and my response was that in the larger interest of the game, I 'm ready to cooperate and work with all the members. I told them I am not interested in individuals, but would like to take everybody into confidence and on all aspects. For instance according to the BCCI Constitution its headquarters is in Mumbai. But they are not honouring it. Why are they neglecting Mumbai? Cricket is a religion in India and Mumbai is the `Mecca' of Indian cricket, but it appears the so-called BCCI office in Mumbai is there just for `nam ke wasthe'. Suppose the Secretary belongs to `X' State, the office goes there and the President belongs to `X' State, the office goes there. This is not the way to function in an organisation.

    Q: What are your thoughts on the need for a CEO and professional administration?

    A: Of course there's to be a CEO, professional administration in place and there's to be a permanent headquarters with all the records maintained in the office. I am just saying these are the requirements, I am not saying I am going to bring it.

    Q: There is a demand from some sports federations that a part of the revenue earned through cricket should subsidise their activities.

    A: How can one sport subsidise another sport? If the other sports are properly managed and proper support is required from various cross sections it will happen. It's the responsibility of the State and Central Government to substantially support and give sufficient strength to other sports.

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