The elections to some of the vacancies in the Managing Committee of the Bangalore Turf Club will be held on the last Monday of this month. One is not sure whether the newly elected members can change the destiny of the club which has taken a severe drubbing. The measure of intelligence is the ability to change, said a great man. Though the club members are not called upon to make changes in a big way, in their own little way, they can make a difference to stem the rot that has set in the last few years of maladministration, malice, corruption and personal agenda that has hurt the sport immeasurably.
The good news is that one sees the exit of Vinod Sivappa and Harimohan Naidu. I am not sure even Vinod Sivappa himself may be in a position to answer why he ever wanted to become a Steward and a Chairman at that. Perhaps his enthusiasm waned the day he managed to get the nomination. For the rest of the term, he was only a figurehead. His term saw the club deteriorate with Nature too not helping the cause. Every season was interrupted and two summer seasons could not take place. He took no interest in the running of the administration letting the old fox Harimohan Naidu manipulate things the way he wanted. The others in the committee lacked knowledge and even the sense to understand how this man was manipulating things without them even realizing it. Ignorance was bliss!
Naidu had made it a profession of being in the Managing Committee. He had managed to win despite the baggage that he carries in the promise that he would bargain a good deal from the GST Council. Nothing of that happened. His last term as a chairman was disastrous with the government not giving license for about four months to conduct the activities of off-course and on-course betting operations. He was the Chairman of the legal sub-committee and the club became a litigant during his stint, spending crores of rupees as legal fees when the stake money dropped to 50 per cent of what it was. He took decisions and passed it off as that of the committee with those who were part of the setup being thoroughly incapable of reading his riot act or resisting him. He was too clever for them.
Lying came naturally to Naidu who used his stint to reap benefit for himself. The good news is that he won`t be able to contest again for one year and hopefully, he will never come back. He is trying his luck to become the vice-president of the Bangalore Club. His good luck could well be the misfortune of the premier club going by the way he dismantled the system at BTC leading to the collapse of the administrative machinery. He successfully gave the impression that he was the only capable person. I have been in the field of sports for the last four decades and have interacted with the functionaries of all sports including celebrated administrators at the national and international level but I have no hesitation in saying that he is the worst that I have seen. Little purpose is served in re-narrating all the wrong that he did in the last several years because by now it is too well known to merit repetition.
There are two fresh faces contesting for the post of Stewards this time. K N Shantha Kumar who is a sports enthusiast is a welcome entrant to the fray. Shantha Kumar has been the past President of the Karnataka Olympic Association. He has tremendous enthusiasm for sports and has covered several Olympics and Asian Games. Surely, he will bring a breath of fresh air and could turn the tide if he gets to the helm.
There is another newcomer in Baba Bedi. People say he is a nice man but has no in-depth knowledge of horse racing. It is not the knowledge of the sport that matters but the intent to do some good without being influenced by vested interests. Experience in the sport can only bring with it prejudice. So, a totally fresh mind is welcome because we have seen the havoc caused by those who were alleged to be experienced.
It is widely expected that these two candidates will win the election as Stewards and the fight for the third slot could go either the way of former Chairman Satish Chandra or Aravind Raghavan. Satish Chandra is a controversial person. The horse that he owned namely Goverdhan was the subject of a major controversy for race fixing and the Karnataka Government banned the racehorse owners from becoming Stewards in the year 1985. Before the club agreed to pass the amendment under pressure, there was a disruption in the club`s activities for 55 days. Satish is a negative minded person and during his term as Chairman, there was a breakdown of the relationship between BTC and RWITC resulting in the off-course operations being suspended on each other`s racing for several months. He continues to have interests in horses and is alleged to be closely associated with a stable. His archaic ideas are detrimental to the good of the sport. The norms that he wanted to enforce on the trainers has resulted in a case pending in the court against the club.
Satish Chandra is an obscurantist. The other candidate in the fray Aravind Raghavan too comes with the reputation of being a disrupter. During his stint as Secretary of KROA, strikes were par for the season. We have to see how he will act when he gets elected as a Steward. One hopes that he does not transform as an anarchist! Any way you look at it, it is a Catch 22 type of situation. But since there is a need for change, one hopes that the responsibility makes him a wiser person if he gets the mandate.