The administration at the Bangalore Turf Club has deteriorated in the last few years. The club reached its nadir under the stewardship of Harimohan Naidu. The club has become a litigant and it is wasting precious money month after month enriching the lawyers by taking caveats and indulging in needless litigations. Though Naidu lost out to the chairmanship of the club to Vinod Sivappa last year, he continues to run the show and is a de facto chairman.
Naidu`s term was eminently forgettable for gross mismanagement, with allegations of corruption doing the rounds day after day in the social media, spearheaded by some of the members of the club itself. Eyebrows were raised when the bookmakers were brought back by Naidu, pushing the turf club into grave financial crisis. The coronavirus has halted all its activities but the club is spending extravagantly but defaulting on its royalty citing financial distress.
The turnover on the club operated totalizator pools was to the tune of Rs 2000 crores but post the induction of bookmakers, it crashed to about Rs 700 crores. The GST played a role but the presence of bookmakers didn`t help matters.
The club also went on an ill-advised move of going in for fixed-odds tote betting which placed the club`s system in the hands of a private bookmaker to exploit. The club was to get a pittance for compromising its own tote betting. The disastrous effect was there for all to see.
The club has now reportedly cancelled the contract for fixed tote betting after realizing its folly. There has to be a serious enquiry as to why such a self-defeating measure was taken. And at whose behest and for whose benefit?
The COVID-19 situation has ensured that the attendance at the club cannot be what it was at any time in the near future. The club`s finances are bound to strain further. The government has approved in principle to allow online betting on the club operated totalizator pools but it is a limiting proposition. The creation of the app may take a while with several members of the club themselves fighting to get the contract. The bureaucratic muddle and politics of the club will result in the online betting taking a long time before it becomes a reality.
With GST continuing to be at 28 per cent, the online betting is unlikely to make a big impact with illegal bookmakers benefitting by the club conducting racing without having to pay any stall fee to the club. Naidu was lucky to get one more term as a Steward despite reservations by several members about his performance because he gave a false hope that he had almost clinched a deal with the government to reduce the GST. It is a year since he held out that promise.
The ill-effects of the policies of Naidu and the continuation of the same by the present Managing Committee under his influence has resulted in the club losing all its top officials. Several veterans who had served the club with distinction were ill-treated at the time of their retirement. The new ones who replaced them have all been forced to resign so much so that there is no Secretary, no Chief Stipendiary Steward, no Chief Handicapper, no Chief Accounts Officer and no Chief Veterinary Officer.
The club has to depend on the people whom they ill-treated to draft its prospectus for the season that is being planned from August 22. There are very few takers for the key jobs at the BTC. Some of the Stewards and Committee members seem to have too much time at their disposal that they are seen in the club for the most part of the day much to the detriment of the smooth functioning of the club.
The BTC has been taking a caveat in the High Court and Civil Court for the last two years fearing that I might take them to court. The Caveat prayer reads: ``WHEREFORE the Caveator prays that in the event of the Respondent institutes a suit and seeks ex-parte interim orders against the Caveator, this Hon`ble Court may be pleased to order the issue of notice to the Caveator and hear the Caveator before considering the grant of any such interim orders, in the interest of justice and equity.``
I would like to know from the committee why I should institute a suit when I am free to express my views in my forum. Why is the Managing Committee afraid of me instituting a suit? What are they trying to hide that they don`t want it to come out in the public domain? This caveat is being taken every three months, for the last two years and this is simply wasting precious money in COVID times as nobody in his right senses would want to come inside the premises to chase the deadly virus.
Even if I institute a suit, why should the Managing Committee fear if they have nothing to hide? Naidu and his cohorts have a lot to answer for all their infractions to the members and to their conscience if they have one. If the other committee members believe that they are not dictated by Naidu, they should show that in their actions failing which they will be dubbed as his dummies. Some of the members whom I spoke to said this is the handiwork of Naidu and they have no role to play.