With talks of enacting a new legislation to regulate the sports bodies gaining grounds, the controversy over alleged irregularities in Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) has once again shifted spotlight on sports associations headed by political leaders and bureaucrats.
Sports in Himachal too is not free from interference of politicians and bureaucrats. Almost every second sports association is either controlled by a political leader or by a bureaucrat. Former forest minister Ram Lal Thakur - a close confidante of chief minister Virbhadra Singh - is heading the Kabbadi association for years while he also heads the volleyball association.
Elections, to the volleyball association had mired into controversy during the previous BJP regime when Kutlehar legislator Virender Kanwar was elected president of the volleyball association in November 2012.
The other group backed by Congress instead elected the former forest minister Ram Lal Thakur as its head. Both Kanwar and Thakur, heading parallel associations, claim to be the true representatives of volleyball players in Himachal Pradesh. Bilaspur legislator Bhumber Thakur heads the handball association. A parallel handball association is headed by Sujanpur legislator Rajinder Rana.
Rural development minister Anil Sharma leads the state athletic association. First timer independent MLA from Chopal Balbir Verma is now heading the judo association. Amit Pal Singh, officer on special duty to chief minister Virbhadra Singh, heads the football association. Previously the post was held by Sanjeev Katwal, who was then OSD to then chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.
Former Congress legislator Kashmir Singh Thakur is heading g the kho-kho association. Chief minister Virbhadra Singh's son Vikram Aditya Singh, himself an ace shooter, is president of the softball association. He is also being backed to head the state's shooting body.
BJP's national general secretary JP Nadda and Rajya Sabha member is president of state rifle shooting. Scion of erstwhile royals of Nalagarh and former minister Vijayendra Singh heads the gymnastics in Himachal. Shimla Lok Sabha member Virender Kashyap is the head of wrestling association.
In a tight spot after being slapped two FIR's, Hamirpur Lok Sabha member and national head of BJP's youth wing leads Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association and Olympic association.
The alleged irregularities in HPCA had seemingly prompted the government to mull over brining a new legislation to regulate sports bodies. The Congress government had brought a bill to regulate sports bodies in its previous regime in 2005 but later recommended for withdrawing it since it snowballed into a controversy after HPCA approached the court. Now chief minister Virbhadra Singh himself has gone on record saying the government was contemplating to revive the previous sports bill or enact new laws to “ clean up the mess”.
Virbhadra Singh himself observed politicians should keep themselves aloof from spots. But Anurag Thakur does not agree to Singh's point so do many other Congress leaders heading various association. “If political leaders can lead the country and the states from the front than what's wrong in leading sports bodies. We have proven our worth and worked for promotion of sports,” says Anurag Thakur.
Former forest minister Ram Lal Thakur, who is said to have played a prime role in giving leads about irregularities in HPCA, observed that sports should not be used for promotion of politics. “If political leaders capture sports bodies to promote politics than its wrong,” said Thakur.
Independent legislator from Sujanpur, Rajinder Rana, who recently became the associate member of the Congress, is heading the netball association.
Who heads what
Wrestling Shimla MP, Virender Kashyap (BJP)
Rifle shooting Rajya Sabha member JP Nadda (BJP)
Olympic association Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur (BJP)
Cricket Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur (BJP)
Athletics Rural development minister Anil Sharma (Congress)
Kabbadi Former MLA, Ram Lal Thakur (Congress)
Volleyball Former MLA Ram Lal Thakur (Congress)
Gymnastics Former MLA Vijendra Singh
Handball Bilaspur MLA Bhumber Thakur
Judo Chopal MLA Balbir Verma
Taekwondo Kasauli MLA Rajiv Saijal
Netball Sujanpur legislator Rajender Rana
Softball Chief minister Virbhadra Singh's son Vikram Aditya Singh
Power-lifting Chairman, forest corporation Kewal Singh Pathania
Football OSD to Chief minister Amit Pal
Golf Chief secretary S Roy (IAS)
Table tennis Ritesh Chauhan (IAS)
Body-building Ajay Mittal ( IAS)
Bridge SS Parmar (retd IAS)
Badminton SS Parmar (retd IAS)
Yoga TC Janartha (retd IAS)