The New Indian Express Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla interviewed Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken for Teekhi Baat on IBN 7. In an interesting and wide ranging interview, Maken strongly advocated bringing BCCI and other sports federations under the RTI Act, made a case for the sports bill, spoke about unprecedented expenditure being made to give training across the globe to sportspersons preparing for Olympics.
Hello! I am Prabhu Chawla, and our guest for today on Teekhi Baat is Union sports minister Ajay Maken. Welcome to our studio.
Thank you, Prabhuji.
These days you are playing political games, other games are over. You are going to UP, other places.
In addition to being the union sports minister, am a party worker.
Recently, you were hell bent on getting the sports bill. The way India is suffering in cricket, the name of India is affected, as it is known as the Indian team, though it comes under BCCI. Even in T20 the performance was poor, whom do you hold responsible, the players are being blamed, they were heroes, now they have become villains. But those who choose them are not held responsible, you also fear them, other people too fear them.
No, no, it is not a question of fearing, if you look back in the recent history, then by the medium of sports bill, public statements, I spoke about bringing transparency in sports federations, including BCCI, which I don’t think had ever been done before. And I think that sports bodies, including BCCI should be under the ambit of the RTI Act and have transparency.
But the bad manner in which we are losing matches now, who do you hold responsible for that. I am asking you teekhi baat, but you will not talk straight since you fear.
I it nothing like I fear or something.
Because, these were the players, who got us the world cup, T20, after that such mediocre performance, it seems they are tired.
Please see, our players are best among the world players, there is no doubt about that. But the way these players are being managed. Consider, you are putting them under pressure to play commercial cricket by way of IPL. Hence, I think that Indian players are the ones who play the most matches in the world. In the whole world, any player of any country does not play so many matches. And most of these matches happen in India. Hence we have two bad effects of this, first is that they get tired, the second is that they only know to play in India and don’t get enough exposure abroad.
Hence, you are saying that playing too much, that too only in India, affects their performance.
Certainly. And when there are commercial matches, like IPL, the fees that they get for playing these matches is so much that even if the players are injured, they hide the injury and play the match. Hence, performance is affected when they play for India.
Hence, the good players of India play commercial cricket, ignore their fitness.
I don’t blame the players for this. Our players have an opportunity to earn fame and money. If we have so many good players, who have played for so many years and reached a level, we should not rob them of these opportunities. But administrators also have a responsibility, there are things that players cannot see and are also not scientifically equipped to see. Hence, the organizers, the BCCI, who organizes IPL, they should take precaution that a balance is maintained, hence they don’t get more than necessary exposure in India. And they should not be made to overplay in India our outside.
Let me ask you in one sentence, don’t you think that overplaying affects performance.
I have said, our players are overexposed, in India also they play the most matches. They are overexposed players. And they have to play may times in spite of being injured.
And BCCI hides their injury many times you said.
Yes, I have said, that when they foresee commercial benefit, and in the absence of any proper checking mechanism, they have to play forcibly. Hence, I don’t think they players are at fault here. I think that BCCI and the IPL organizers are at fault.
But players can also say no to play these matches, saying that they cannot play so much.
Please see, players don’t dare to say no. If players say no, then it would be difficult for them to get to play tests. The strength of the player is his game only, if he is not played in four matches, then there is nobody is encourage him. Hence, I believe that it is no fault of the players. Our players are the world best players. But it is the responsibility of the BCCI and IPL organizers, that players should not be made to play when they are injured and not overexpose them.
You are saying we have the best players, but due to BCCI’s commercial interests, their performance is being affected.
Certainly, I am saying this.
You think they should be made to play less, or balanced.
They must be made to play in balanced form. I have said that they have to be made to play in a balanced way.
It means they must be made to play less commercial matches.
Certainly, they should be made to play only those many commercial matches which do not have adverse impact on their fitness.
Now you are saying that commercial matches are more and other ones are less.
I think there should be a balance. It is not question of commercial more or less.
You also fear players it seems, on the issue of commercial interest.
I am not scared of players.
A player would be recognized as an Indian, he will not be known as a good player if he earns Rs. 10 crore, if he makes 10 more runs, he will be known as a good player .
I know under what conditions our players play and the kind of mental pressure on them of their sports federations. And how the player are scared every time that if they do something, this or that will happen and they will not be made to play in the next match.
Hence they are being made to play forcibly.
There is a compulsion on them.
Prabhuji, I am saying this.
But you don’t have any role in this.
Our government has no role in this. And in the whole world…
They whole BCCI lobby is so influential, that it does not let your proposed law to be passed.
Not only of BCCI, and in BCCI, not only the Congress, there are member of all parties, cutting across party lines, big leaders of all parties are in BCCI. And only Congress, even state chief ministers of the BJP write letters and saying that this law (proposed sports bill) should not be there.
What law shouldn’t be there?
The sports bill. They don’t want to have the sports federations under RTI. They don’t want players participation in organizing the players which we want to bring via the sports bill. They want to have a 70 year age limit
You are talking of other sports bodies. Regarding cricket let me ask, why is the team known as India team and not BCCI’s team.
It is India’s team, not BCCI’s. When they play, they move with the Indian flag. Hence, this is of India.
But Indian laws are not applicable to them.
Now via the sports bill we are planning to do this. They should not be answerable to the government, but the people of the country. Hence, the people of the country, demand information from them, because they are doing the biggest work of being a public authority by choosing a team, which will represent India. When they are choosing a team which represents India, then the people of the country have full right to know about the organisation which chooses a team for India.
That is fine to know about how the finances are being used, but what about the health fitness issue?
Financial, even administrative, how their elections are happening? Are they happening fine or no, financial matters, the money that is being earned, from where the money is coming, where it will be deployed, today there are enforcement directorate cases concerning IPL.
But all the cricketing grounds given to IPL are of the government.
Certainly. And through your medium I want to tell the people of the country that the sports ministry has submitted an affidavit in the Central Information Commission (CIC) in which we have told the CIC that they are a public authority and they should be under the ambit of RTI. We have also to them that they have got land free of cost in the country, be it state bodies or others. Secondly they have got income tax exemptions year 2006. Then exemption of entertainment tax, police,
Ajay, bhai when you are saying so much, you also submitted information to CIC, then why as minister you failed get the bill passed.
See the sports minister or any minister has to make a bill and take it to different stages. But I want to tell you not only Congress people, but many more BJP people who have interest are opposing the bill.
But your cabinet ministers are against you.
Even in BJP, if the BJP government comes, they will face the same opposition.
But recently you meet the leaders in BCCI.
I meet everybody.
You met Sharad Pawar, Jaitley saab, did you get any assurance that your bill will be passed.
I meet everybody because I want this bill to be passed. There were some issues, doubts that needed to be cleared.
You stop playing, do teekhi baat now.
I am not playing, If I would have been doing that, then I would have not been able to take this movement regarding sports federations, who are giving stiff resistance, to this level.
You bill is still hanging; secondly you are saying that Suresh Kalmadi be removed, but are not able to do that.
Tell me the law, tell me the law by basis of which I can get Kalmadi to step aside.
In this country, can any jailed, charge sheeted, convicted man become the president of sports federation.
You are right, he certainly can become. Hence, I am talking, I want to bring this law, the sports bill.
Are sports bodies public bodies?
Certainly, they are.
In public bodies charge sheeted people cannot fight elections. This should happen isn’t it?
This is what is there in the sports bill. These are the provisions of the sports bill, and hence all of them are against it. If they oppose me, and Prabhuji, if even you oppose me on Teekhi Baat then i..
I am not opposing, I am saying why you cannot get it done, there is a government, but there is no power.
Three four months ago, we had moved it in the cabinet. After moving it in the cabinet, some people raised valid questions. We don’t want to give the message that the government wants to take under its control, it is not a good thing to bring it under government control. But we also want, there should be transparency, hence we will rework the bill and table it in cabinet.
Like you are saying ,there is opposition in your party.
Is it not, Rajiv Shukla is going everywhere and..
He is not a cabinet member.
But he is in the minsiter’s group.
He is not a cabinet, he does not sit in the cabinet.
But he goes to everybody.
He does not sit in the cabinet.
He is the parliamentary affairs minister, he will have to lobby to get the bill passed.
Jab ghar ka thanedaar na saath de aapka, to kya pakdenge aap kisiko.
The thanedaar of Congress party and UPA government is Dr. Manmohan Singh and Shrimati Sonia Gandhi.
Not thaanedar, they are IG police, DG. Am talking about thaanedar who are gate keepers, it does not seem that you have got the support of the whole Congress party as yet.
Please see, I am a member of the Congress party and if I am working for the reforms I am doing by the medium of the Congress party. When as a member I have come this far, I have been able to do this as a representative of the Congress party.
Tell me one thing, how much time limit you have to pass the bill.
No time limit, by I will try, that in this budget session
You will not surrender.
I will not surrender.
Either Ajay Maken will get the bill passed, or he will not be there.
I will not surrender; I will take the bill ahead.
Even if the parliament rejects it.
Let’s see, I don’t hope the parliament will reject it. I parliament I have spoken to many MP’s, 95 per cent Member of Parliament tell me that the bill should certainly be passed.
But tell me so many thousands of crores were invested in sports, there were many scandals also, last time also you told me that the utility of the sports stadiums will be increased, they all are lying in the same condition now.
Now, you come with me, right now, in all stadiums, you will see 12,000 children playing in stadiums all over Delhi. 12,000 children are playing in the come and play scheme that we have started. In Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Nagar there was a football match with Munich Wales with India here. South Asian Federation of football games happened here. Now hockey world cup qualifiers in national games will be held here. Before this Nehru cup and other games were held here. And in these sports facilities, by paying just Rs. 1000, any school, any sports federation of state can use this.
It has been one year with you at the helm of affairs in the ministry, there are Olympics after six months, is India ready for it.
We are spending Rs. 260 crores in this, 732 core probables we have finalised in last April, till November end we have spent Rs. 111 crore. Rs. 65 crore were spent on giving foreign exposure, we have deployed 39 foreign coaches. Besides this 125 …
On what games are you preparing?
We have identified 16 diciplines, we have found 732 core probables from these 16 diciplines. But now we have narrowed it down, we are asking the the qualifiers and the prospective medal winners what help do they what help in what manner. You will be surprised to know Poonia is playing and training in South Africa, before that she was in USA. All our shooters are training in Germany. Archery people are going to Korea. We have said wherever you want to go, our wrestlers are in USA at the moment, boxers will go to Kazhakistan. We are providing them the best facilities available in the world. This is unprecedented, has not happened till now.
You will participate in Olympics.
People are preparing.
The Olympic association has taken an agenda, on behalf of the government too, since Dow is a sponsor, we will not go, not participate.
We have said that keeping our protest on, and by doing a strong protest, there should be no name of Dow chemical’s at any place. Like Dow chemicals was putting its name on the ramp of the main stadium, later they also said no to it. Now as things come in front of us, and wherever we see the name of Dow chemicals, we will protest, tell them to remove the name.
You will keep on protesting, but there is no chance of withdrawing.
Presume if we are protesting and getting results too, then why should be fire keeping the gun on our sportsman’s shoulder. If Dow Chemicals has given sponsorship in London, then why should we fire keeping the gun on the shoulder of our sportsmen, rather, till the last moment we will see how much they listened to us and what decision we have to take. But at this moment, I don’t want to put a mental block in the minds of our players who are preparing for London Olympics. And let me also tell you, there should be no propaganda to the effect that, players and coaches get a doubt in their minds that will affect our preparations.
Tell one, one year has passed, what have you gained and lost. What have you lost.
Opportunity, we put the sports bill forward, but could not get it cleared. What we gained is sending the sports bill again for inter ministerial consultation. We have gained that we have done unprecedented preparation for the London Olympics. What we gained is all the Commonwealth stadiums, and other stadiums in the country, we have started come and play, in Delhi alone ,12, 000 children have benefitted from this scheme. Hence, we have prepared to put systems in place.
How much budget do you have, you don’t have much of it.
In these things, we do not need to much budget.
For making UID cards Rs. 8000 crore is given, you don’t get Rs. 800 crores for games.
This I want to tell you, we don’t need too much budget, more than budget, there is a need to change the mindset
Money is needed, in a country of one billion, to make a team.
Like I said, the kind of money we are spending on preparation of Olympic games is unprecedented and there are many such countries…
But it is still not as much as wanted.
Whatever we for Olympics preparation we have got.
Not Olympics, I am talking of sports budget .
We need sports budget, even if we demand too much, it will be less, to develop sports infrastructure in the country, at the low level. But let me tell you, sports is a state subject too. Hence, when sports is a state subject, hence we can create only elite infrastructure. Recently, for the national games, the Kerala government had a budget of Rs. 325 crores earlier, they said that they wanted Rs. 625 crore, we recommended Rs. 625 crores and sent it to the planning commission. If they would spend the money we gave to them by August, the Indian Government will given them Rs. 311 crore to Kerala government, in the same way, there were games in Jharkhand, we gave funds to the Jharkhand government. Games will be held in Goa, we will give funds to them. Hence, wherever games will be held.
But what target have you set, how many medals will you gets in Olympics, ASIAD, do you have any target?
Please see, we have made a target. Our first target is that our London Olympics qualifiers, last time only 57 of our people qualified, our efforts are there this time that at least 90-100 people of ours should qualify this time. If the numbers of qualifiers increase, then automatically the medal prospects increase.
Other than sports, you had recently gone to Varanasi to release the Vision Document, don’t you think that people from outside are going and releasing vision document, but not the local leaders.
AM: See, that is not the case.
Sam Pitroda went there and started talking that he is the son of a carpenter, don’t you think that this is a joke on the government.
No, that is not the case, certainly it is not so.
Sam Pitroda is talking of being a carpenter.
I will tell you the reason of my going to Varanasi.
Varanasi is an urban area, urban centre, am from Delhi and went there, I have told them to help in brining the Congress government there. We will make Varanasi a developed area like Delhi. I went to Varanasi, Mohan Prakash was with me, he was the president of Banaras Hindu University,
That is fine, but by giving prominence to Delhi people , you were not able to create candidature of local leaders.
All our candidates are local, then we have a government at the centre, we went there to give a message that we have a government at the centre,
In Rahulji’s rally, young people went, who are less than 50 years in age. Do you think that if people there is loss, the youth will lose, if there is a win, then the youth will be the winner.
There will certainly be victory. And under that , the whole party is working under Rahulji’s leadership.
There is a fight of the youth there.
If you think that, they let it be that, but we will win.
Lets see, what happens, thank you for coming to our studio.
Thank you, Prabhuji!