The Bangalore Turf Club administration is in a shambles. The Managing Committee of the club has been taking many quixotic decisions only to reverse them because of not applying thought.
There is no administrative head to take charge. Some of the top officials of the club who could have continued to be an asset were dumped when they retired with total disregard to the long distinguished service. The others were forced out by the mandarins of the club who believe that they need to be rude to everyone. There is total vacuum as the junior officials are unsure of what steps they can take without risking the displeasure of the authorities who have thrown all norms to the wind.
Even though it is several months since they forced the Secretary of the Club to resign during the first lockdown for a flimsy reason, the club hasn`t been able to get a replacement. Even the Joint Secretary was forced to quit last fortnight but was appointed again on a short term contract with a reduced salary. One could not understand the logic.
Everyone knows that the Chairman of the Club Vinod Sivappa has been a figurehead, with the previous Chairman Harimohan Naidu calling the shots. Many club members believe that whatever the negativity that surrounds him, Naidu is more capable than the others at the helm. He is the de facto chairman of the club. The committee members themselves say that Naidu manipulates everything in the committee. He even represents the club in many meetings of the Chairman of Turf Authorities of India. Is it not fair to blame him for not using his experience to correct the drift that the club is taking?
Unfortunately, there are about 20 odd people who keep coming back as Stewards after a mandatory break because most senior members are reluctant to take charge. If you ask many youngsters as to why they became club members, the answer would be even more shocking: I was told to contest and I did so. The members want only their children to fill up the vacancies arising out of the death of the existing members resulting in people who have no stake in racing getting elected. The sport has suffered as a result because people who have a commitment to the sport are rarely elected.
The mandarins of the club banned the entry of racehorse owners during the lockdown as they wanted to protect the syces who reside permanently in the stables fearing that if any stable hand got infected due to people coming from outside, the entire lot of 800 odd people could be infected. Bio-security measures were no doubt needed as we were facing an unknown enemy but this cannot be a permanent feature.
The Secretary of Karnataka Racehorse Owners Association had written to the club to permit racehorse owners to visit the racecourse to see their horses during the morning or evening roll for restricted hours. However, there has been no response from the club. This is at a time when every activity is opened up and all restrictions have been withdrawn. When the Central Government has announced Unlock 4, BTC is in Lockdown 1 mode!
The racehorse owners have invested lakhs of rupees on horses and they have been paying the Basic Training Fee of about Rs 25,000 despite all the hardship. They have been denied even the basic courtesy of visiting the club and having a look at their prized possessions. While the syces have been locked up for more than five months in violation of human rights, the racehorse owners have been looked down upon as though everyone one of them is a potential carrier of the virus. The club has been steadfastly refusing to offer subsidy unlike clubs like Madras Race Club and Hyderabad Race Club which has been giving Rs 5000 per month.
The authorities have not put any restrictions on workers who come to the racecourse in the morning and leave the premises in the evening. Those who supply the oats and all daily essentials are also allowed to enter the racecourse premises and exit. What is more shocking is that the racehorse owners are not allowed to even visit the bank which is at the entrance of Gate 2. They can come and exit without coming into contact with anyone. The BTC seems to have an ultra-efficient accounts department which sends pre-ban notice to owners to pay up the dues with the date of the notice and the time to complete the payment being the same!
The Karnataka Government has accorded sanction for online betting. The Managing Committee wanted to take the approval of the General Body through a postal ballot but instead of restricting the agenda to one issue, they have clubbed more than 30 resolutions and amendments to the Articles of Association some of which are controversial.
The Managing Committee treated with contempt a memorandum asking for a postponement of the EGM to a time when members could be physically present, participate in the discussion and vote after a debate. The club functionaries behave in a way which has seen them at loggerheads with a wide section of the racing fraternity and the growing enchantment includes the members who have voted these worthies into power. There is a possibility that the angry members could even defeat the resolution required for the purpose of introducing online betting. Though some committee members were against the majority of the resolutions, they lacked the courage of conviction to express themselves.
The turf club mandarins had been promising an early resumption of racing if the government permission was forthcoming. Now that the decks are cleared, the focus should have been on releasing the prospectus. There should have an exciting buzz to the atmosphere. Sadly we cannot but be sceptical whether any racing is possible in the month of September.