New Delhi/ Calcutta: Mahesh Bhupathi, who led a revolt of 11 players against the All India Tennis Association, on Tuesday, slammed the AITA for the way it formed a three-member panel to look into the issues raised by the rebels. He alleged the committee will be “biased” and it serves no purpose.
The AITA, on Sunday, formed a three-member committee, which includes Justice Deepak Verma and Naresh Kumar, to resolve the issues with the rebel players, but Bhupathi said the panel was formed to divert attention from the “real issues”.
“I am very sceptical about this committee because it has been given a mandate to submit a report in four months while India’s next tie will be held in a few weeks’ time. This was a ploy by the AITA to divert attention from the real issues. I don’t see any urgency on the part of the AITA,” Mahesh told a television channel.
Mahesh also said he had reservations about the composition of the committee.
“Two of the members have no tennis background and by putting Naresh Kumar in the committee, there is no chance of the committee being unbiased. I have a lot of respect for Naresh. He has been the Indian captain but some of the writings from his notepad which has been shared in the media have not gone down well with a lot of people,” he said.
When asked for a reaction to Mahesh’s verbal volley, Naresh told The Telegraph: “Our respect is mutual… But the views are different. I think that’s because we are from different generations. I am associated with tennis in different capacities since 1952. I am for tennis and I want this imbroglio to end… If I am biased, it is for the players… I am not striving for any office… And I am not gunning for any person.”
Mahesh said it was very disturbing that AITA was taking everything for granted.
“It is very disturbing and frustrating. We were hoping that somebody from the management will try to sort out the issues. It seems that the AITA does not want to engage us,” he said.
After losing to South Korea 1-4 in the Asia/Oceania Group I tie, India play Indonesia from April 5-7 in the first round play-off encounter.
“All in all, it is very frustrating for us and it is not going to do any good to Indian tennis. We have expressed our views and we will stick by them which we believe would serve Indian tennis well,” Mahesh said.
Mahesh also slammed AITA chief executive officer Hironmoy Chatterjee for his remarks against the rebel players, but said that he and other players were not interested in listening to what Chatterjee was saying.
“I read what Chatterjee had said at the press conference on Sunday. He was very harsh. We were never blackmailing the AITA. That has not gone down well with many of us. We can also say so many things about the way AITA functions,” he said.
“Hope something comes out soon. It was very disappointing to see India losing to South Korea but if the AITA remains like this more disappointment will be in store against Indonesia in April,” he added.
AITA had agreed to most of the demands of the players like business class air travel and an increase in their share of Davis Cup prize money, but it had put its foot down on selection matters.
The players had demanded that captain S P Misra, coach Nandan Bal, physiotherapist Sanjay Singh and Dr. Vece Paes be changed. AITA had agreed but said the players cannot impose their choice as selection was prerogative of the federation.
AITA had removed Nandan, Dr Paes and Singh, but stuck with Misra for at least the South Korea tie.