Dec. 13: Jharkhand today lost to Assam the right to host National Games 2005, the bid for which had been converted into a race between two chief ministers from rival political parties.
Assam secured 24 more votes than its nearest rival in the poll to host the 33rd Games. The poll was held during the Indian Olympic Association executive meeting this afternoon at Hyderabad. Haryana pulled out its bid at the last moment.
Jharkhand’s loss has come as a big blow to the state’s sportspersons, who have blamed it on the “non-seriousness” of the Babulal Marandi government.
They felt that Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has scored a point over his Jharkhand counterpart as far as lobbying for the Games is concerned.
The Jharkhand Olympic Association (JOA) sources said that despite their repeated requests to the state government, the matter was not taken up seriously. “The Assam chief minister himself lobbied for the 2005 National Games and made several trips to New Delhi for the purpose.” Gogoi also met IOA officials and put forth the bid for the Games.
Assam’s victory was the culmination of concerted lobbying by the state’s Olympic association secretary Mukut Medhi, who was backed to the hilt by Gogoi.
On the other hand, Marandi did not push the matter with the zeal displayed by Gogoi, the sources said. “He did not lobby for the Games in Delhi,” a JOA official said from Hyderabad.
Insiders in the JOA claimed that the Congress camp in the IOA was instrumental in helping Assam bag the 2005 Games. “Suresh Kalmadi of the IOA is a Congressman and many other office-bearers come from the same political background. Tarun Gogoi being a Congress chief minister has made quite a lot of difference.”
Several sportspersons said they were unhappy with the way the sate government has been going about promoting sports in the state. They accused the sports and culture ministry of deliberately ignoring the interests of sportspersons.
“While lobbying for the 2005 Games began soon after the last Games in Punjab, the Babulal Marandi government woke up at the eleventh hour to hurriedly requisition a team of professionals for making a CD about the sports infrastructure in the state,” a former hockey Olympian from Jharkhand said.
The sportspersons also held all the ministers in the Union Cabinet from Jharkhand equally responsible for the debacle.
“We have many Central ministers from the state. The government could have urged foreign minister Yashwant Sinha or agro-based industries minister Karia Munda or minister of state for human resources Rita Verma to lobby for Jharkhand,” the hockey player added.