SPORT

PM calls for accountability

NEW DELHI AUG. 26. The one-day All India Sports Congress was meant to give the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, an appropriate platform to make an announcement or two. The PM did agree to a couple of long-standing demands of the All India Council of Sports. But for the rest of the day, the plenary session at the Vigyan Bhawan was an exercise in futility.

The Sports Congress, attended by several Arjuna Awardees, eminent sportspersons, Chief Ministers, Lt. Governors, Sports Ministers of various States, sports administrators, federation officials and bureaucrats, turned out to be a huge disappointment.

Bishan Singh Bedi provided the only bright phase of the day. But first the PM.

Mr. Vajpayee agreed to rename the existing Sports Development Fund as the `Prime Minister's Sports Development Fund' on par with the Prime Minister's Relief Fund. He made his announcement after Prof. Malhotra, in his speech, had made this suggestion with a hope that it would attract more contribution from organisations and individuals alike, since it attracted tax exemption.

Mr. Vajpayee also stressed the need for transparency and accountability in the functioning of federations and other sports bodies. "Everyone needs to recognise that sports federations exist to promote sports and sportspersons and not for serving narrow interests. A self-regulating Code of Conduct needs to be evolved to guide the functioning of all Sports Federations in the country,'' said the PM.

He also hinted that the MPLAD Scheme might be amended to allow use of up to Rs. 20 lakhs per annum for purchase of sports equipment, creation of sports infrastructure and sports promotional activities.

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