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Mousy business afoot

sports Updated: Jan 06, 2009 23:57 IST
Sukhwant Basra
Sukhwant Basra
Hindustan Times
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Prakash Amritraj is busy playing cat and mouse with the press. Just that it is he who is doing the scurrying around trying to hide amongst the nooks and crannies offered by the innocuous 'no comment' instead of pouncing out a precise yes or no to the tennis federation's ask of whether he will give up his American passport to be eligible to play for India.

This Amritraj has given some of the most quotable quotes on just what playing for India means to him. He had once made to your correspondent the rather dramatic assertion that even his blood is hued saffron, white and green. Amritraj insists he carries an Indian flag in his bag and has stated in the past that his being American is just an accident of birth. But his continued reluctance to look for a way to play for India while staying American is beginning to raise doubts over whether his heart really beats for the tricolour the way he projects.

To put things into perspective, Amritraj began his tennis career playing for the US. It was only later -- cynics suggest that by then he found he was nowhere near being part of the US squad -- that he exercised the option of playing for India as the International Tennis Federation allows for it provided a player's national, in this case the US, body has no objection.

The tennis grapevine is abuzz that Amritraj is examining myriad options that papa Vijay's extensive contacts can tap. Bizzare schemes are being proposed by the affected players. These include examining if it can be considered a violation of basic rights, getting the United Nations take, figuring out legal loopholes of whether the policy can be applied to players who have already been playing to looking to use the forthcoming Pravasi Sammelan to lobby for support. The Indian Olympic Association as well as the International Olympic Committee are being mobilised too.

One would have thought that it was really quite simple: give up the American passport and take the Indian one. Instead, hopes are being pinned on potential dual citizenship and pressure being put by the powerful overseas Indian community. Looks like holding on to the ease of being American has begun to weigh far heavier than the lure of holding aloft the tricolour.