Crying foul and threatening to move to Court over not being recommended for Khel Ratna are neither awe-inspiring nor a graceful gesture by any stretch of imagination. But its also a pity that ambiguous criteria and undefined rules have yet again resulted in heart burns and anguish among some of the greats of Indian sports.
Bajrang Punia is perhaps the third biggest name after Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, and currently the best and most successful Indian wrestler. And he raised some very pertinent questions.
"Why am I denied Khel Ratna? I have got the maximum international medals including gold for my country in the last two years. No other Indian has won back to back CWG gold medals (2014 & 2018) with an Asian Games gold this year. I have a World Championship bronze as well. So I fulfill all the criteria to be chosen or recommended for Khel Ratna. So why am I denied? I deserve this award like Virat Kohli & Mirabai Chanu," Bajrang Punia told Republic TV in an exclusive interview before holding the press conference in the national capital on Thursday.
Indeed, Bajrang's arguments weigh in gold and its hightime that the selection committee come out with reasons for denying him Khel Ratna. "I am forced to come out like this. I understand this doesn't look good. But I am not begging. I am not stealing other's award. I am asking for what I deserve," Bajrang explained.
Interestingly Bajrang's "Guru" Yogeshwar Dutt who is supporting him in his fight for justice, chose to abstain the press conference. Bajrang now plans to meet Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Friday and then based on its outcome decide when to move court against the committee's decision.
Begging for an award or rather demanding it with a threat to go court may not be appreciated in some quarters but the Ministry will do well to avoid a situation like this by laying down a fully defined set criteria for conferring the highest sports award.
Earlier, Arjuna award winner Manika Batra also spoke to Republic TV, lashing out at the critics who are questioning her. "I am not bothered about who is saying what. If they chose to ignore my achievements at this year's CWG, then what can I say? I am happy that those who matter (Arjuna Awards Committee) found merit in my performance and I am grateful to them," the CWG champion said.