Wrestler Bajrang Punia on Friday revealed that sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore had assured him that his case will be looked into after being subbed for the Khel Ratna despite winning the Commonwealth and Asian Games gold.
“I was supposed to meet the minister today (on Friday) but suddenly got a call last evening for the meeting. I asked the minister about the reason for not considering me for the Khel Ratna. He said I didn’t have enough points, which is wrong. I have garnered more points than the two (Virat Kohli and Mirabai Chanu) who were nominated,” Bajrang was quoted as saying by PTI.
The 24-year-old said that if he doesn’t get a favourable reply by this evening, he will be forced to knock the doors of court. Bajrang was accompanied by his mentor Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt during the meeting.
“I have been wronged. I want justice. The minister said he will look into the matter but there is hardly any time left for the award function. I will wait till evening for communication from the government’s side. If I don’t get a favourable reply by evening I will move court on Saturday,” he added.
Besides gold medals at Gold Coast and Jakarta, Bajrang had won silver medals in the 2014 editions of the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. He also has a 2013 World Championship bronze medal to his credit. But it did not come into consideration as the points system for giving away the award was introduced only in 2014.
Besides, as per the terms of reference for the selection committee, it “may not mechanically recommend Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna to the recipient of the highest marks across disciplines.”
“But in a particular sport discipline, the award will be recommended only for the recipient of the highest aggregate marks.”
A source in the sports ministry said that Rathore is unlikely to make a last minute addition to the list. “The minister met Bajrang and wanted to know his grievances. He explained to Bajrang why his name was not considered. Even though he has promised Bajrang to look into the matter, it is unlikely that any changes will be made,” the source told PTI.
The National Sports Awards will be given away on September 25 this year instead of August 29, the birth anniversary of Major Dhyan Chand, because of clash of dates with the Asian Games.
(With inputs from PTI)