Congress Rajya Sabha member Mani Shankar Aiyar doesn’t much care for being part of any team, let alone supporting his ‘home team’ of a Congress-led government that will be hosting the Delhi Commonwealth Games in another 67 days.
Why else would he tell reporters outside Parliament, “Personally, I will be unhappy if the Commonwealth Games are successful?” His logic: “I am very happy with the rains, firstly because they will ensure good agriculture for the country, secondly because they will ensure the Commonwealth Games are spoilt.”
The image of a former sports minister praying for rain to submerge Delhi during the international sporting event may seem rather odd. But this is a man who not too long ago publicly went on record to say how much he loathed being sports minister and how relieved he was when the portfolio was taken away from him last year.
Aiyar, however, isn’t completely cold to Indian sporting glory. “Imagine if we would have spent the Rs 35,000 crore (cost of hosting the Games) in providing training to children, we would have won medals in every international sporting event,” said the former Doon School and St Stephens College alumnus known for his distaste for sports in general and ‘elitist’ sports in particular.
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit refused to comment. Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi called the remarks "anti-national".
"Had Aiyar been sports minister, the Games would never have come to India,” he said.
While the Congress was quick to disown the remarks, so was the BJP. "We hope the Games will be successful. I don’t know in what context (Aiyar) made the remarks,” Congress’s Shakeel Ahmed said. "The prestige of the country is associated with the Games," said BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Never believing in understatement, the unsporting Congress MP drove home his point: “Those patronising the Games can only be evil. They can’t be God.”
Who needs detractors when you have Aiyar on a roll?