When it comes to the issue of politicians representing or heading sports bodies, the NDA government is keen to tread the middle path.
Asked if his government would support a complete ban on politicians representing sports bodies, Union sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal said: “There are many politicians who were prominent sportspersons earlier. So it is wrong to denounce politicians completely from representing sports bodies.”
“Such sportsperson-turned-politicians would be much more familiar than many on issues relating to sports or the kind of problems that sportspersons face.
But at the same time, at least 50% of the committee members should be from sporting backgrounds,” the minister added.
The previous Congress-led UPA dispensation had drafted a National Sports Development Bill.
A key proposal was to bar ministers and sports ministry officials from contesting elections to the National Olympic Committee or a National Sports Federation “until the expiry of five years from the date of relinquishing the charge as such minister or retirement or relinquishing of charge by the officials, as the case may be.”
The strongest stand came from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who in February, during at the launch of the National Youth Policy 2014, said: “When you are talking about sports and how to make it accessible, then powers should go to sports people when deciding things about sports in the country...Keep the politicians out of sports if you want to put it directly.”
Sonowal had recently expressed his keenness to bring the cash-rich Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. He said the government had no intention of taking over BCCI. Many of India’s prominent politicians figure in leading roles of several sports bodies and organisations.