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Nov 15, 2019-Friday



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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

Akhilesh Das Gupta, Badminton Association of India chief, dies

Akhilesh Das Gupta has been in the forefront of Indian badminton with several stars like Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu winning laurels for the country during his reign as chief of the BAI

other-sports Updated: Apr 12, 2017 14:18 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Badminton Association of India president Akhilesh Das Gupta (second from right) during a press conference ahead of the India Open world superseries badminton championship in New Delhi recently.
Badminton Association of India president Akhilesh Das Gupta (second from right) during a press conference ahead of the India Open world superseries badminton championship in New Delhi recently. (PTI)

Akhilesh Das Gupta, the president of Badminton Association of India, has died after a massive heart attack. He was 56.

A prominent politician, the former Mayor of Lucknow, was a prominent figure in Indian badminton. Recently, he was seen with top international stars like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Carolina Marin during the India Open superseries badminton championship in New Delhi.

A controversial figure, Akhilesh Das Gupta was a Rajya Sabha MP for 18 years. A former badminton player, Das Gupta was the son of freedom fighter Babu Banarasi Das.

The Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) had recently investigated Akhilesh Das Gupta and other office bearers of the Delhi Capital Badminton Association (DCBA) on charges of nepotism in selection of a team that went to Tokyo for the Youth Sports Exchange Program in 2014 .

But since the agency didn’t have the mandate to initiate a formal criminal probe in the case, the agency referred the matter to the sports ministry for further action few months back.

The CBI’s initial probe found that out of the 23 members of the team, seven were wards and close relatives of the office bearers including that of the BAI chief.

Good times for Indian badminton

Cash awards as well as exposure to the shuttlers in all age categories had become a routine for the Indian badminton ever since he took over from the then BAI chief VK Verma in 2011 in a dubious manner. Though his alleged controversial style of working in BAI always remained a talking point, his full support to the game as well as players, was immense.

During Akhilesh das Gupta’s tenure, Saina Nehwal earned a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, whereas PV Sindhu raised the profile of India badminton further, winning a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Besides this, Indian shuttlers too won many laurels during his regime.

His tenure as president of the Uttar Pradesh Olympic Association and the chairman of the UP Badminton Association in the recent past allegedly remained controversial where his old friend and the secretary-general of the BAI Dr Vijai Sinha was not only removed from his post, but was also put behind the bars for his alleged acts at the UPBA-backed Babu Banarasi Das UP Badminton Academy here.

Advantage, Gopichand?

Certainly, after Akhilesh Das Gupta’s death on Wednesday many things would never come to the light, but one thing seems sure that a new battle of supremacy in BAI would kick-off again, and among all, if sources are to be believed, chief national coach Gopichand would be the biggest gainer as he has been the only one, who can put things under control as there is no second line-up after the ex-national shuttler Das Gupta. Already some BAI officials as well as some top shuttlers had lodged their protests against Gupta’s dictatorial attitude of working.

The future of UP Badminton Association as well as the Babu Banarasi Das UP Badminton Academy also looks uncertain now as after Das Gupta, it seems almost difficult for the present set of people here to continue things in the same manner, unless someone from his own family, especially his son, who has been the part of the UPBA, comes forward and take control.

(With inputs from Sharad Deep)