Stiff opposition of the Congress and BJP leaders holding key positions in sports federations to the proposed sports law, notwithstanding the political cauldron over the Commonwealth Games scam, has forced the government to consider changes in the law.
“We are willing to drop provisions believed to be intrusive to autonomy of national sports federations,” Sports Minister Ajay Maken told HT after national level consultations on the draft law ended in Friday.
For BJP, the tirade was led by VK Malhotra, who has been president of archery association for the past 32 years and Arun Jaitley, party’s Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha.
In absence of Suresh Kalmadi, Jagdish Tytler, former Congress MP and chief national judo federation for 15 years, has taken up the cudgels against the draft law that aims to regulate national sports federations
“The law will curb the autonomy of the sports federations as enshrined in the International Olympic Association charter,” Malhotra said. Tytler added that selection of the office bearers is an internal matter of the federations and the government should have nothing to do with it.
“The ones who will lose their positions are opposing it,” Maken said, while adding that Jaitley has agreed to support the bill if certain changes are made. “The decision on the changes will be made once we receive Justice Mudgal report next week.”
The draft law has provision of maximum two terms for an office bearer or age limit of 70 will bar many including Malhotra and Tytler from heading the federations. Others include Akali Dal leader S S Dhindsa and Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Singh Chautala.
The BJP has turned guns on the Congress once irregularities on conducting of Commonwealth Games surfaced in 2010 and all parties sought revamping of sports administration in the country. The government aimed to do so through the draft bill made public in February 2011.
Maken said the draft bill has received support cutting across political parties. BJP leaders such as Kirti Azad, a former cricketer and Congress leaders supported the bill at a meeting of Parliamentary committee on sports. “Even Left and Trinamool Congress want us to bring in this legislation,” the minister said.
The tumultuous fortnight of national consultations has forced the ministry to soften the bill and bring the public sector Sports Authority of India within its ambit. Maken said he was open to the idea of dropping provisions considered intrusive in functioning of sports federations but will not compromise on ensuring transparency in working of these federations. The minister has also agreed to bring SAI within the ambit of the draft law.