New Delhi: Asian Games champion grappler Bajrang Punia on Thursday threatened to move the court if the sports ministry does not accept his plea for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.
The Asian Games champion was a strong contender for this highest sporting honour following his recent achievements. Besides claiming a gold at Jakarta, he also won the 65 kg freestyle title in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The 25-year old Haryana wrestler had also won a World Championship bronze medal in 2013 besides bagging silver medals in the 2014 Incheon Asiad and Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
Cricketer Virat Kohli and Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu have been recommended for country’s highest sports award and Punia is angry for not being recommended for it.
“I fulfil all the criteria laid down for this award,” the champion wrestler told the media in New Delhi” I am upset that despite my name being recommended by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) I have been ignored”
“I am meeting the sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathod on Friday and will put forth my case before him.
He (the minister) is himself an Olympic medal winner and he understands the anguish of a sportsperson who gets the raw deal” Bajrang said he is hopeful of the positive outcome of the meeting “but in case my plea is rejected I will be left with no option but to move the court to seek justice.
“I am surprised at being ignored for the award,” he said adding “I don’t know what was in selection committee ’s mind. My achievements are there what else do you want? I am really hurt,” he continued.
Bajrang said that this ‘tension” is affecting his preparations for the World Cup scheduled for next month “I am not seeking any favour or seeking it out of turn, I just want justice. If I am deserving then only you give me”
The wrestler who at present is ranked 2nd in the world in his category made it clear that he is fighting his own battle” I am fighting because as a matter of principle”
Olympic bronze medallist and Bajrang’s mentor, Yogeshwar Dutt, has also expressed his surprise over his protégé being ignored ‘. “Bajrang has been consistently performing well in international tournaments. I am unable to understand why his name not being nominated for Khel Ratna.
“ I am not against anybody. I am happy for the athletes who are getting awards but on what basis Bajrang has been ignored? The committee must make the criteria for selection transparent,” he said.
Why can’t you wait for a year as given your formidable CV you may get it next year, he was asked and Bajrang’s reply was crisp and blunt “ No I can’t wait for a year. Because the awards take into consideration the performance of the last four years. So in 2019 my performance of 2014 will not be considered and that will be a huge loss of points”