War of words continue on Arjuna Awards nomination row: Sports Ministry says they informed BCCI in advance

BCCI says they didn’t get the intimation from the Sports Ministry bout the form and time for filing the nomination for Arjuna Award, Khel Ratna et al, while the Union sports ministry on Thursday refuted Indian cricket board’s (BCCI) charge that the government hadn’t sent official forms for nominating cricketers for this year’s Arjuna and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awards.

According to a report in the Times Of India, the controversy has been simmering for the past few days, with the Board confirming that it hadn’t nominated any cricketer for this year’s national sports awards.

According to a Hindu report, BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale reiterated on Thursday, “We wish to clarify that unlike every year, the BCCI has not received any forms for nominating cricketers for the Arjuna and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Awards of the Government of India.

“It has been the practice of the Sports Ministry to send the forms well in advance to the BCCI to nominate in the given format, which includes the players' acceptance and the BCCI's recommendation.”

A Sports Ministry official, however, emphasised the Board had been informed. The official claimed a circular to that effect had been sent to the Board by post on January 28 and officials from the Sports Ministry had also contacted the Board on phone in mid April to remind the cricket body of submitting its recommendations.

Jagdale observed that “under the circumstances (not having any intimation), the BCCI is not in a position to recommend deserving cricketers for the awards like every year.”

However , joint secretary in the ministry, Rahul Bhatnagar said that the ministry had sent letters to all sports federations, state governments, SAI and sports promotion boards on January 28 seeking nominations for Arjuna, Dronacharya, Dhyan Chand, Khel Ratna and other awards by April 30,” says the report, adding that these were duly despatched to all these organizations including the BCCI.

“The same was also placed on the website of the ministry. This is the procedure which is followed every year and the same was done this year too. All federations are well aware of it,” he said in a statement.

Bhatnagar also pointed out that as a precautionary step, under secretary SPS Tomar had reminded various federations, including the BCCI, in the third week of April about the last date of nominations. “Tomar specifically spoke to the BCCI official in Mumbai. He was informed by the official concerned that they would take necessary action. However no nomination has been received from BCCI, while a large number of nominations have been received from other sports federations,” he said, the TOI report states.