CHENNAI: BJP leader and Assam Badminton Association head Himanta Biswa Sarma has been appointed as Badminton Association of India (BAI) interim president following the Executive Council (EC) meeting in Lucknow on Sunday. Devendra Singh was elected as senior vice-president. Earlier, Express had reported that Himanta was favourite for the post, which was lying vacant after the sudden demise of former president Akhilesh Das Gupta. It is learnt that 36 EC members with voting rights (total 38), were present during the meeting. Himanta was chosen unopposed until the next elections in 2018.
The Assam statesman was humbled by the support. “Initially, I was not keen on taking up the role. However, when support started pouring in from all quarters, from shuttlers and various state associations, I was encouraged,” he told Express from Lucknow. Shuttlers like Parupalli Kashyap, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa had earlier rallied behind him on social media. Himanta, on his part, is determined to repay the faith. “The idea is to make badminton the most popular sport. We are looking to build academies in every state, across the country. Our target is the next Olympics. I want more shuttlers to be on the Olympic podium. For that, national academies are a must,” he said.
Finance is another matter which Himanta is planning to take a close look at. He wants to ensure that all state associations receive their fair share of the earnings, which will help them perform better.
“Sharing revenue is another thing that I’m looking at. We want to make sure that every state association gets their due so that they can function well and hold camps. But for now, this is just in my mind. In the coming days, we need to formulate policies to implement the same,” the 48-year-old observed.
National chief coach Pullela Gopichand, one of the EC members, feels he is the perfect fit for the post. “It’s wonderful to have him as the BAI interim chief. He is an able administrator, and is the right choice to head BAI after Mr Dasgupta,” Gopichand said. “All projects, whether already started, or in the pipeline, by the previous head, will continue. This is the assurance Mr Sarma has given us,” said the former India No 1.
Meanwhile, it was also decided the India Open Super Series, which was extended for another four years, will be renamed in honour of Das Gupta for his contribution to the sport.