Star wrestler Bajrang Punia, who has been left miffed after being ignored for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, has threatened to take the legal action against the government for not considering him for the country’ highest sporting honour.
Bajrang, who won gold medals at this year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in Indonesia, was nominated for the Khel Ratna by the Wrestling Federation of India. However, the honour has been jointly bestowed to India cricket captain Virat Kohli and world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu (48kg) by the government.
“I’m really disappointed and shocked. I’m meeting Sports Minister tomorrow after (mentor) Yogi bhai (Yogeshwar Dutt) spoke to him and arranged the meeting. I just want to know why I was being ignored. I want to know the reason,” Bajrang told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday. “It’s in his hands now. I want to know whether I am deserving or not. If I deserve then only give me the award.”
Bajrang, when asked if he will go to the court if he fails to convince the Sports Minister, said: “It would be the last option. I feel I deserve the award this year and that’s why I have applied for it. “One doesn’t feel good to beg for an award but it is the biggest honour for any sportsperson and a wrestler’s career is very uncertain. Anytime an injury can end your career.”
The wrestler from Haryana also insisted that the Khel Ratna snub had taken a toll in his preparations for the World Championships to be held in Budapest, Hungary from October 20 to 28. “This decision has hit my World Championship preparations. It was a big jolt to me. It is difficult times for me. I hope I don’t have to approach the court and concentrate on my preparation,” he said.
In a departure from tradition, the National Sports Awards this year will be given away on September 25 instead of August 29 because of clash of dates with the Asian Games that concluded earlier this month.
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award: Virat Kohli and Mirabai Chanu.
Arjuna Awards: Neeraj Chopra, Jinson Johnson and Hima Das (Athletics); N Sikki Reddy (Badminton); Satish Kumar (Boxing); Smriti Mandhana (Cricket); Shubhankar Sharma (Golf); Manpreet Singh, Savita (Hockey); Ravi Rathore (Polo); Rahi Sarnobat, Ankur Mittal, Shreyasi Singh (Shooting); Manika Batra, G Sathiyan (Table Tennis); Rohan Bopanna (Tennis); Sumit (Wrestling); Pooja Kadian (Wushu); Ankur Dhama (Para-Athletics); Manoj Sarkar (Para-Badminton).
Dronacharya Awards: C A Kuttappa (Boxing); Vijay Sharma (Weightlifting); A Srinivasa Rao (Table Tennis); Sukhdev Singh Pannu (Athletics); Clarence Lobo (Hockey, Lifetime); Tarak Sinha (Cricket, Lifetime); Jiwan Kumar Sharma (Judo, Lifetime); V R Beedu (Athletics, Lifetime).
Dhyan Chand Awards: Satyadev Prasad (Archery); Bharat Kumar Chetry (Hockey); Bobby Aloysius (Athletics); Chougale Dadu Dattatray (Wrestling).
(With PTI inputs)