What do you have to do to qualify as a player to be sent on a foreign junket? Ordinarily, the candidates would have to pass a trial, you would imagine. But that is apparently not the way the badminton authorities of the country think or function, because a case that has come to light appears to show that if you know the high and mighty in the sport's corridor of power, that's all you need to qualify as a 'player', irrespective of whether you actually have been one.
According to a report in the Times of India, top Badminton Association of India (BAI) officials, including its president and former Rajya Sabha MP Akhilesh Dasgupta, are being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for fraud and nepotism, for having allegedly sent their children on a goodwill trip to Japan as 'players' in 2014. It was, however, discovered that the 'players' did not satisfy the selection criteria that was laid down.
Most of the children of the office-bearers of the BAI and its Delhi unit, Delhi Capital Badminton Association (DCBA), had never played at a state or regional-level tournament. The CBI alleged that apart from Akhilesh Das Gupta, who is the son of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Banarasi Das, other top officer-bearers, including DCBA general secretary Jitender Kochar, DCBA vice-president Harish Ahuja, former secretary of DCBA Apinder Sabharwal, former treasurer of DCBA Kamal Kumar Thapar and former member Harish Mittal were involved in sending their kin to Japan under the garb of badminton players.
The event was organised and funded by the government of Japan as part of the Youth Sports Exchange Programme, with the aim of promoting Japanese culture and values among the youth of the Asean. According to Times of India sources, there was no advertisement for the selection of the 'players' from India, nor was any trial conducted.
The CBI has sent a report to the sports ministry, which, however, is yet to take action. The investigation agaency has also launched a preliminart inquiry against the officials alleged to have been involved in the case.
Dasgupta has, however, pleaded his innocence, saying that it was a city exchange programme between Delhi and Tokyo and that BAI had "nothing to do with it". He insisted that it was not a sports event, but a cultural one.
"As far as my daughter is concerned, she went to Tokyo as she was selected by DCBA and I was not part of the selection. The criteria was that youngsters need to have knowledge of badminton. My daughter has won bronze medal in national school championship organised by CBSE. She has represented Delhi," Dasgupta added.
The BAI president also said that the association had replied to the government on the issue.
Updated Date: Mar 01, 2017 11:23 AM