Former law minister M Veerappa Moily said Tuesday he had wanted to bring a law preventing politicians from controlling sports associations but there was pressure on him not to disturb the status quo.
His statement comes at a time when the Justice R M Lodha-led committee set up by the Supreme Court has recommended government servants and ministers be banned from holding posts in the cricket board BCCI.
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“Why should politicians, especially ministers, hold positions in sports associations? Where is the time? This job is best left to sportspersons and administrators,” Moily told The Indian Express. “That is why, when I was law minister and later corporate affairs minister, I wanted to bring a law to make working of sports associations transparent and also open their accounts for public scrutiny. However, many political leaders strongly opposed me. Since there was no consensus, the move never fructified.”
The Congress MP said he was of the “firm opinion” that political leaders shouldn’t head sports associations. “That is a job best left to former international players. Being involved with such associations will also give them an opportunity to do something to make their game more popular. How can any right-thinking individual oppose this?” he said.
Asked if those who opposed his plan included his cabinet colleagues in the then UPA-2 government, Moily said, “Yes, leaders of all parties, including many ministers, opposed the move. I fail to understand what they gain from heading sports associations.”
During UPA-2, among ministers actively involved in various sports associations were Sharad Pawar (cricket), Praful Patel (football), Farooq Abdullah (cricket), Rajiv Shukla (cricket) and Jyotiraditya Scindia (cricket).
As corporate affairs minister, Moily had announced a law to bring transparency and public accountability in business activities of societies such as the BCCI and also bring sports bodies under the purview of the RTI Act. However, the move never went beyond the discussion stage.
“It was discussed informally, including at one cabinet meeting. But, many ministers were not in favour of any interference in functioning of sports associations,” Moily said.
Incidentally, the Aam Aadmi Party government of Delhi has alleged irregularities in the Delhi cricket body DDCA during the term of present Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as president of DDCA, a post he held till 2013.
In an interview to The Indian Express, suspended BJP Lok Sabha MP and former India cricketer Kirti Azad, who is currently involved in a bitter feud with the DDCA, had said, “I fail to understand why politicians have to come into sports. We have very good examples of politicians who have come into sports… Politicians come in and delay an issue. Justice delayed is justice denied and it happens all the time.”