Even as chief minister Virbhadra Singh and his archrival, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, have been crossing swords over the functioning of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, the state cabinet on Monday cleared the much-hyped sports bill that has been hanging fire ever since the Congress party led state government came to power in 2012.
A meeting of the cabinet chaired by Virbhadra accorded its approval to the Himachal Pradesh Sports (Registration, Recognition & Regulations of Associations) Act, 2005, which was repealed by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party led government. The bill, which aims to regulate sports bodies and is likely to be tabled in the legislative assembly on Tuesday, is bound escalate tensions between the Congress party and the opposition BJP.
Much to the chagrin of the BJP, the government has taken a cue from Rajasthan's sports bill that was introduced by that state's Congress party led by Ashok Ghelot to clip the wings of the then Indian Premier Leagues commissioner, Lalit Modi, who headed the Rajasthan Cricket Association at that time. The provisions of the Rajasthan sports bill makes it mandatory for the sports bodies to conduct elections in presence of an observer from the sports council.
No such appointments to the posts of president, secretary and treasurer can be made in the absence of valid elections as per the Rajasthan Sports Act, 2005. The war of words between the Congress party and BJP escalated when the government ordered the midnight takeover of the HPCA stadium in Dharamsala . Though the court maintained status quo the BJP accused the Congress of being "anti sports".
The powerful HPCA is headed by Dhumal's elder son, Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur, who is also the national president of the BJP's youth wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha. Not only HPCA, most of the other sports associations in Himachal Pradesh are headed by leaders of both parties.
The HP Sports (Registration, Recognition & Regulations of Associations) Act 2005, brought by the Congress government in 2005 had been repealed by BJP. Act was challenged by Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association in the court, pleading that it (HPCA) did not come under the purview of the Act. The case was pending in the court when the BJP government repealed the Act after coming to power.
The earlier bill brought by the previous Congress party led government had stated that all sports bodies be registered within 30 days. It had also emphasized on the power to call record and hold routine inspection of sports bodies. The previous bill had necessitated on the routine audit of the sports bodies. The previous bill had sought voting rights for every member of sports bodies under which each member would cast a vote to elect an executive body.
Home, vehicle loan limit raised
The state cabinet also accorded its approval for increasing the limit for housing and vehicle loans from the existing `20 lakh to `50 lakh. The amenities committee set up by the legislative assembly had recommended revision of the limit for housing loans fixed for legislators by the government. Currently MLAs are entitled to avail the combined loan of the `20 lakh for purchasing a vehicle or a house. The cabinet also approved an increase in per kilometer mileage from the existing `13 to `15 per kilometer, while the leave tour allowance for legislators has been raised from the existing `75,000 to `1lakh.