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Sports Bill: IOA For GoM, Maken Firm on Transparency
Emboldened by the cabinet's rejection of the sports bill, the IOA today demanded that a Group of Ministers examine the "contentious issues" in the document even as Sports Minister Ajay Maken insisted that no compromise would be made on bringing about transparency in the functioning of sports bodies.

The IOA, which had all along vehemently opposed the bill, today called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to set up a Group of Ministers (GOM) to sort out the issue, a move which is widely interpreted as an attempt to take the matter out of the Sports Minister's hand.

Maken, however, made it clear that he would give up on the bill just yet and would talk to his cabinet colleagues to convince them.

"I am sure I will be able to reason out with people who are opposed (to the bill) because I am clear on one thing, we do not intend to control or be intrusive. We will discuss with them and we are willing to rework on any such provision which they feel government wants to control," Maken told PTI.

The National Sports Development Bill, which seeks to rein in sports bodies and possibly bring the cash-rich BCCI under the government's grip, was rejected by the cabinet on Tuesday with several ministers raising objections to certain clauses.

Reacting to the developments, IOA Acting President Vijay Kumar Malhotra said he has told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that not only the IOA but all the National Sports Federations (NSFs) are "willing for any scrutiny by the Government agencies."

"We have nothing to hide, the NSFs are open and transparent."

"The IOA is democratically elected body which strictly follows the constitution of the country and adheres to the Charter of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)," Malhotra said.

"We in the IOA and in the NSFs are feeling suffocated by the unfounded and sinister tirade launched against us by certain vested interest. This smear campaign is having crippling effect on our preparations for the London Olympics," he added.

"A wrong and malicious impression is being created in the mind of the general public that IOA is against every government move. This is not correct," Malhotra said.

Maken, who is keen to cleanse the system of managing the sports organisations by bringing in transparency and accountability, asserted that his attempt was to prevent any more scams like the CWG.

He rejected contention of the opponents that he was bringing the National Sports Development Bill to ensure that government gets control of the sports bodies and expressed readiness to rework some of the clauses, except those linked to transparency and accountability.

On the strong opposition by some Union Ministers to some clauses of the Bill, Maken said he was "willing to have a re-look" without compromising aspects like efficiency and transparency by bringing sports bodies under purview of RTI.

The BCCI has also strongly opposed the bill but Maken said he would not have any discussions with the Cricket Board officials on this issue.

"BCCI has already being talked to by our committee, so I would be talking to my cabinet colleagues, I will try to convince them and discuss with them," he asserted.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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