The Telegraph
Saturday , February 22 , 2014
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Keep politicians out of sport: Rahul

New Delhi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday threw his weight behind keeping politicians out of sports bodies in the country and said sportspersons themselves should be at the helm of affairs.

“When you are talking about sport and how to make it accessible, then more and more power should go the sportspesersons when deciding things about sport in the country,” Rahul said at the launch of ‘National Youth Policy 2014’ and ‘Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan’ here.

“I think that’s the crux of it. Keep politicians out of sport if you want to put it directly.”

Rahul said it is similar to empowering common man to help change politics in the country.

“The same applies to politics. If you want to change the politics in the country, give more and more power to young people, give more power to the common man and you change politics,” Rahul added.

Interestingly, at different levels, politicians from Rahul’s own party are in various sports bodies. Union ministers Rajeev Shukla and Jyotiraditya Scindia are two of the high-profile Congress leaders who are in cricket administration. While Shukla is one of the vice-presidents of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and a former IPL chairman, Jyotiraditya is the president of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA).

And how can one forget Suresh Kalmadi?

National Youth Policy 2014 and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan, a Centrally Sponsored Plan Scheme were launched at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Sports minister Jitendra Singh, Mary Kom, Vijender Singh, P. Gopichand, Ashwini Nachappa, Ronjan Sodhi and Karnam Malleswari were also present on the occasion.

Sportspersons welcomed Rahul’s call. “I whole heartedly support Rahul Gandhi’s views on politicians being kept out of sports bodies. It should be implemented and only sporstpersons should be at the helm. Politicians are not qualified to run sports bodies. They can be just figureheads but should not run sports bodies,” Ashwini Nachappa said.

P. T. Usha agreed that politicians should now leave sports bodies to sportspersons.

“We have seen several politicians at the helm of various sports bodies in the country and there has not been much improvement. I feel the time has come for sportspersons to take over,” Usha said.

“Only sportspersons know the difficulties faced by their fellow sportspersons. They have faced the problems themselves and they know how to deal with them. I welcome what Rahul Gandhi has said. It could be difficult to dislodge politicians from sports bodies but I support Rahul’s views,” she said.

Sushil Kumar, however, does not see any problem in politicians running sports bodies if he has the commitment.

“I don’t think it (politicians running sports bodies) is a problem. If they (politicians) are totally committed towards sport then I don’t see any problem in their involvement,” he said.

“I am fine with politicians heading sportsbodies if he knows the sports and has played it,” he added.

Bhaichung Bhutia also does not have issues with a politician heading a sports body, but said qualified professionals should work under him.

“I have no issues with a politician at the head of a sports body but he should have a team of qualified professionals working under him. What matters is whether a sports body is being run professionally or not,” Bhaichung said.