The nomination of former international wrestler, Satpal Singh, as chairman of the panel that will finalise the names of sportspersons for the Dronacharya, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna Awards has raised quite a few eyebrows.
Among the six wrestling experts who have filed their nominations for the Drona are Ramphal and Yashvir Singh, two coaches who are close to Satpal.
Controversies and Satpal have never been strangers. The former grappler's nomination for the Drona was mired in controversy. His nomination for the award was twice rejected, before Sushil Kumar's bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, finally got him the award. It is strange, why Yashvir sent his nomination when Satpal had already received the Drona for Sushil's exploits.
Satpal, who heads the Delhi Education Department's sports cell, has drawn flak for his style of functioning on many occasions. There have been allegations of manipulation against him in tournaments held under the aegis of the School Games Federation of India (SGFI), of which he is the president. During his tenure, martial arts sports like choi kwang do — a name unheard of in the country — have become a part of the SGFI's sport calendar.
Sports minister, Ajay Maken, who played a key role in Satpal receiving the Drona in 2009, however, isn't prepared to take questions on why he was made chairman of the awards panel. “There's nothing controversial about it,” he retorts. The minister could have veered away from this had he chosen some other former athlete of repute for this post of chairman. Sadly, that has not happened.