The Commonwealth Games medalists from Maharashtra, who have been promised individual cash awards by the state government, could be luckier that their cricketing counterparts.
They are expected to get the prize money at a glittering ceremony to be held in the city on Wednesday, but the cricketers, who were part of the 2007 T20 World Cup winning team, are yet to get the money they were promised by the state government.
Mumbai cricketers Ajit Agarkar, Rohit Sharma and the team manager Lalchand Rajput, who hail from the city, were promised a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh each when they won the first edition of the T20 World Cup in 2007.
However, to their utter dismay, the players were given half the prize money earlier this year and that too in a most unceremonious way — cheques of Rs5 lakh each were sent to them by courier.
“Earlier this year, a person came to me with an envelope that had three cheques of Rs5 lakh each for me, Ajit and Rohit. I told that person that it would be inappropriate for me to hand over the cheques to the cricketers,” Rajput said. The then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had declared the cash awards for the players before the entire team was welcomed in a most pompous way.
Cricket lovers still remember the celebrity march in which Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was the captain, has taken his team on an open bus to Wankhede Stadium.
Rajput lamented the state’s insensitive approach. “Even Vilasrao (Deshmukh) was surprised when I told him about the goof up. But, he could not help us because he’s in New Delhi now.”
Agarkar and Sharma were unavailable for comment. Rajput said he hopes that the state gives the Commonwealth Games winners their full due at Wednesday’s function. Sport secretary Sanjay Kumar said he did not have any details about the cricketers’ grievance.
“I will check with the officers concerned,” said Kumar. But, he promised that the Commonwealth Games medalists from the state would receive the full amount on Wednesday.
The state has promised Rs 10 lakh each for gold medal winners. Silver medalists will get Rs 7.5 lakh each and bronze medal winners Rs 5 lakh each.