Union ministers associated mainly with cricket blocked cabinet approval for a draft sports legislation that aims to bring transparency and accountability in national sports federations, including the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
In view of their objections, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who described the bill as good, asked sports minister Ajay Maken to redraft it to remove “intrusive” provisions, which include a mandatory vision document by each sports federation on long-term development of sports in India.
The six ministers who opposed the draft were Sharad Pawar (agriculture), Farooq Abdullah (new and renewable energy minister), Praful Patel (heavy industries) , Kapil Sibal (HRD) minister , CP Joshi (road transport) and Vilasrao Deshmukh (science and technology). Home minister P Chidambaram and defence minister AK Antony supported it.
The bill brings federations under an independent regulatory regime and was prompted by corruption charges against the Indian Olympic Association in organising last year's Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
The bill aims to bring all federations under the Right to Information Act and introduce a 25% quota for former players. A provision that irked many ministers relates to barring anyone over 70 from contesting an office-bearer’s post.
Pawar, who heads the International Cricket Council, said most ministers would lose jobs if a similar age bar was introduced for them. The average age of the cabinet is 64 years.
The BCCI’s political power was evident as five ministers associated with federations, including Pawar, reportedly termed the bill as “undemocratic” and urged the cabinet to reject it. Sources said Pawar suggested threatened to take up the issue with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Maken hit out at BCCI, saying many federations get indirect benefits from the government, including land at concessional rates.