A day after the Indian women's kabbadi team clinched its first World Cup, the state's response to the winning team was coloured by politics, instead of encouragement.
Abhilasha Mhatre, Suvarna Bartake and Deepika Joseph from the winning kabbadi team hail from the state. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar wrote a letter to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan asking him to announce a reward of Rs1 crore each for the three players and a reward of Rs25 lakh for their coach Ramesh Bhedgiri.
Chavan chose to remain silent on the issue even as the letter was passed on to the media. The chief minister's spokespersons said that the issue would be discussed in the cabinet. If anything, Pawar's letter is an indicator of the uneasy relationship between the coalition leaders in the state and the communication gap.
Pawar, also the finance minister, in his letter stated that the state should be proud of the players' performance and should treat them at par with cricketers. "The state government had announced a prize money of Rs1 crore each for the cricketers after they won the World Cup. The kabbadi players should be rewarded similarly," he said. He added that the government should play a proactive role in encouraging local sport such as kabbadi, which had a strong presence in the state earlier.
Despite Pawar's sentiments, no senior government official or minister was present to welcome the three players when they returned home on Monday.
"It is shocking that no senior official from the sports department bothered to turn up to welcome the players. No felicitation programme has been announced. Pawar, who is the president of the state kabaddi association, should have been present," said BJP senior leader Vinod Tawde, who went to the airport to congratulate the winning team.