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Whiskey, bravado, and the battle for survival

  April 14 , 2024

Ah, the Bangalore Turf Club, where the spirits flowed as freely as the bravado of its members. Picture the scene: a meeting of former and current office-bearers, fueled by whiskey and a healthy dose of righteous indignation.

With the government playing hard to get and refusing to grant the club the license it desperately craves, tensions were as high as the stakes at the races. The club, once a supplicant at the government`s door, now fancied itself a daring rebel, poised to impart a lesson to the head of the government, the Chief Minister, that he would remember for years to come. The members seem to subscribe to the myth that whoever dares to tamper with the club inevitably loses their grip on power.

The seasoned elders of the club have reached a unanimous decision: they`ll bide their time, giving the government a chance to take action. But if the authorities continue to drag their feet on granting the license, the club is prepared to take matters to the courts. However, the Chief Minister`s stance couldn`t be clearer - he flatly refuses to engage with club officials unless they drop the legal battle and come to him for negotiations. Despite this staunch opposition, the club appears resolute in embarking on a fresh legal battle!

Legal counsel from the club`s top brass warns that withdrawing their case in the Supreme Court, challenging eviction orders from the High Court would leave them high and dry. Yet, reaching the Chief Minister amidst the whirlwind of Lok Sabha elections proves a Herculean task, risking his ire if approached without due caution. His temperament sours particularly when dealing with the Bangalore Turf Club, whom he perceives as reneging on promises with disdain. The turf club mandarins are pulling out all the stops, leveraging every ounce of influence they can muster to compel the Chief Minister into action, oblivious to his steadfast resistance to being coerced against his desires.

The Turf Club, an institution long monopolized by a select few families, finds itself at odds with government attempts to broaden its membership base. The last significant membership adjustment, enforced by the Devraj Urs administration in 1977, saw the club begrudgingly admitting 150 new members, with strict criteria barring relatives, partners, and associates of existing members. Despite Bangalore`s explosive growth, the club`s membership tally remains frozen at 350, a testament to the entrenched power dynamics at play.

Navigating the legal labyrinth is akin to hurdling through a race blindfolded. With its murky past and dubious dealings, the Bangalore Turf Club faces an uphill battle. Even if legal respite is secured, the club risks incurring the wrath of the Chief Minister, inviting further turbulence into its already precarious situation.

Yet, fueled by liquid courage and a stubborn determination, they have decided to march forth, heedless of the pitfalls ahead. And so, the Bangalore Turf Club will embark on a journey down the confrontational path, ready to stake their claim and defend their honour, even if it means trampling over a few legal hurdles along the way.

Amidst this circus of pretence and privilege, scandals brewed at Bangalore Turf Club like a pot of masala chai left simmering for too long. Whispers of illicit activities fluttered through the air like the discarded betting slips littering the ground.

But the pi├Ęce de resistance of scandalous tales belonged to the race-fixing shenanigans. Oh, the lengths to which some would go to ensure their chosen nag crossed the finish line first! The 1985 scandal where the Stewards made the loser a winner following a frivolous objection to suit their betting interests which resulted in the government banning the race horse-owning members from becoming stewards is too well known. That fight had also seen the government deny the license for 55 days following which the turf club amended the Articles of Association as per the Government`s dictate and thus managed to get the license to conduct its activities after a brief hiatus.

And so, the Bangalore Turf Club stood, a school for scandal where the only lesson worth learning was that in a world where money talks and horses run, anything is possible, and truth is as elusive as a winning trifecta.

The Bangalore Turf Club is a saga of legal battles and stubborn pride. Despite losing the ownership battle in the High Court and facing eviction orders, the club refused to go quietly into the night. With a Special Leave Petition filed and accepted by the apex court, they`ve managed to keep the races running for over a decade, thanks to a convenient status quo order.

Legal luminaries wagged their fingers, warning that the status quo only applies to the land, not to the club`s whims and wishes. Yet, the club clung to hope, awaiting a final hearing that seems to be perpetually stuck in limbo.

But alas, the writing on the wall seems clear. The High Court had spoken unanimously, decreeing that the land belonged to the government, and the club was merely a tenant with no rightful claim. Still, the club`s members, drunk on their sense of entitlement, refused to entertain the notion of negotiation. They`d rather cling to their divine right to the premises while enjoying government facilities without a second thought. Wisdom seems lost on those who believe themselves to be above the law until the final verdict comes knocking at their door.

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