Announcing his arrival on the country’s badminton scene, former cricket captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, declared his candidature for the post of president of the Badminton Association of India (BAI) on Saturday. “I want to bring professionalism, accountability and transparency and contribute to the game,” said the 47-year-old from Hyderabad.
Asked what prompted him to take the decision, Azharuddin, said, “Being a Hyderabadi, one can’t stay away from badminton. During my playing days, we would train alongside the shuttlers. Besides, I have been contemplating to contest the elections for the last 4-5 months.”
On his opponent and current incumbent, V.K. Verma, he said, “I don’t want to criticise anybody, it’s just that I want to bring some change,” he added.
Verma, who has been at the helm for 14 years, raised doubts over Azharuddin’s eligibility. “He is not eligible as he is not an office-bearer of any state unit. Moreover, he is also serving a life ban imposed by the BCCI for alleged match-fixing.”
Verma also claimed to have received written proposals from three states and calls from seven other units questioning the cricketer’s eligibility. “The issue will be discussed in the General Body meeting on June 13 in Chennai and voting will be done. The state units have requested that Azharuddin’s eligibility issue should be tabled in the meeting,” he added.
Azharuddin quelled all such queries saying, “The life ban was imposed by the BCCI and I am fighting it in court. But this doesn’t make me ineligible.”
It may be recalled that the Sports Ministry had limited the tenure of administrators of the National Sports Federations, who have been holding positions for decades.