Sad news from the increasingly dysfunctional Manmohan Singh government:
A proposal to regulate national sports federations was overwhelmingly rejected by the Union Cabinet on Tuesday with several ministers criticizing the sports development bill as deeply flawed and designed to vest sweeping powers in the sports ministry.
One of the ministers who voiced the “power grab” criticism was — no surprise — Sharad Pawar, who in addition to overseeing India’s agriculture (nearly a fifth of India’s economy) also finds the time to lead the BCCI and the ICC. But he was not alone: Arun Jaitley (an opposition leader, but, crucially, also the head of Delhi’s Cricket Association); Praful Patel (a bigwig MP and head of India’s football federation) and C.P. Joshi (highways minister and, of course, head of Rajasthan’s Cricket Association) all joined in to scuttle the bill. They know power grabs when they see one.
Now, obviously a bill doesn’t prove its merits by its opposition.You can read a summary of the main features of the bill here. I’m not privy to all its details, but it did seek to expand the representation of athletes in India’s sports federations and prevent some meddling from the sports ministry. It also would have required the BCCI to comply with some annual audits. I didn’t expect this bill to pass, or even come close to passing, but I now have an appreciation for how difficult it will be to remove the political element from Indian sports.