A strange decision of the Congress-led government in Rajasthan, making it mandatory for sportspersons to give affidavits stating on oath that they have no connection with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind to be eligible for the State’s sports awards, has angered both the organisations.
The Rajasthan State Sports Council, which has started distributing cash rewards that were enhanced tenfold in the 2012-13 Budget, has asked recipients to sign an affidavit to this effect. Council chairperson Shiv Charan Mali gave away the first lot of awards at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here on Friday.
The Council maintains that it is only following the State government’s rules which have been in existence since 1986. State Sports Minister Mangilal Garasiya said the Council must follow the rules.
Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, student wing of the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, staged a demonstration at the SMS Stadium during the award distribution ceremony and engaged in a scuffle with policemen who tried to stop them. The activists alleged that the ruling Congress insulted the players and undermined their contribution.
Coming to the defence of its ideological mentor, the BJP accused the ruling Congress of indulging in “vendetta politics” with an eye on the Assembly elections scheduled for later this year. BJP spokesperson Kailash Nath Bhatt said the RSS was devoted to the service of the nation and it would be wrong to describe it as a communal outfit. He demanded immediate withdrawal of the decision.
BJP State president and former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said the rules for paying cash incentives to sportspersons was part of a “conspiracy to disturb communal harmony” in the State. “A player is a player. Forcing him to give an affidavit stating that he is not attached to the RSS or any other organisation is absolutely unfair,” she told a public meeting at Ghatol in Banswara district, organised as part of her ongoing Suraj Sankalp Yatra.
The Jamaat-e-Islami Hind described the decision as unnecessary harassment. “Depriving a person of the right to become member of a lawful organisation amounts to infringement of his rights as a citizen,” said JIH State unit president Khurshid Hussain. The JIH had been engaged in social service and promoting Islamic teachings, besides working for peace, justice and communal harmony, since 1948. “Denying an incentive to a sportsperson because of his membership of the JIH is highly objectionable. We will look at the legal option of challenging the rule,” he said.
Mr. Mali distributed Rs. 2.26 crore to sportspersons in various sports. He said over 350 players in the State would benefit. Athlete Ghamanda Ram received the highest amount of Rs.3.50 lakh at Friday’s function.