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Badminton Punjab Style: 46-yr Punjab SSP, 49-yr Referee represent India in Iceland

Manmohan-Sharma-Apinder-SabJalandhar, January 27, 2015 (Yes Punjab News)

In a shocking revelation, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) sent the 46-year-old SSP of Tarn Taran Manmohan Sharma and a 49-year-old badminton referee Apinder Sabharwal as "rising star players" of India to an international tournament in Iceland, even as a leading national television channel carried out a sting operation wherein a top official admitted that the 'rising stars' were actually of mediocre calibre.


More shockingly, the two did not play a single match in Iceland. Interestingly, Manmohan Sharma gave a 1st round walk-over to his opponent.


India's Minister of State for Sports (Independent Charge), Sarbananda Sonowal, has now sought an explanation "within 24 hours" from the officials concerned.


The two players in question from Punjab formed part of a three-member 'non-players team' sent as part of Indian team by the BAI.


The third player is 22-year-old Abhishek Sharma, hardly known to anyone.Rajinder-Singh-Kalsi-Jaland


The names of Sabharwal and Sharma figured in the Badminton World Federation's (BWF) draw list, but they pulled out at the last minute.


The serious misrepresentation has landed Punjab Badminton Association (PBA) into a controversy. The 'system' of selection and clearance of players by the PBA has been exposed by none other than Rajinder Singh Kalsi, a leading industrialist from Jalandhar and the general secretary of the PBA.


Kalsi admitted the fraudulent manner in which the two players were selected, but then said, "Tell me, Iceland vee koyee country hai? (Is Iceland a worthwhile country?)."


"They used to teach us that they live in igloos," he said, before breaking into a loud guffaw, but also added, "Vekhna, mera sting-stung na kar dena. (Please see that you do not carry out a sting operation on me)." Of course, Times Now carried out the entire sting tape, including his request to spare him from such notoriety. 


When asked why these players did not play in the Nordic island nation, Kalsi said these players must have gone only to obtain a visa. "Uh ji gaye hee bahane naaal hone ne, visa lain layee," he is seen saying on camera.


To defend the association's grossly unfair and unconstitutional selection of players, Kalsi went on to claim that they didn't encroach upon the right of any player by recommending the two players who didn't play. "Kai vaar shauk hunda hai ji ke asin vee bahar jaa ke khed ayiye," he said justifying the claim of the players and the recommendation of the association.


Sure, that he would be spared of a sting, Kalsi was quite forthcoming when he elaborated the whole system of selections and clearances to players. Asked a straight question, Kalsi reportedly said, "Sometimes the players have a desire to go abroad through invitations from friends abroad. They proudly announce that their friends have come from India. Even clubs approach us for such things."


He admitted that the two flew to Iceland as part of Indian team but didn't take part in tournament.


The channel has claimed that Kalsi, 'off the record' admitted that they were under pressure from certain quarters to do what he did. One aspect is that officers use records of participation in international tournaments as brownie points to further their career.


Adding a new dimension to the explosive  controversy, Akhilesh Dass Gupta, president, BAI, landed himself in soup by saying that when they learnt about the inclusion of 'non-players' in the team, they were immediately withdrawn. 


"They paid for their tickets, hotel and other expenses and if they went there we have nothing to do with it." However, the question is who cleared their names and how the three represented India. Also, how exactly is a rising star defined in the BAI constitution -- Must be above 45, must not play, must be mediocre?

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