OP Jaisha to Babita Phogat: Sports and politics can’t go together. Choose your side

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The Haryana government on Friday came under considerable criticism after its notification asking sportspersons in the state to hand over one third of their earnings from professional events and endorsements to the Haryana Sports council went viral.

Babita Phogat

 

The notification, dated 30 April, stated that the money thus collected from sportspersons will be used for development of sports and budding talent in Haryana.

“One-third of the income earned by sportspersons from professional sports or commercial endorsements will be deposited with the Haryana State Sports Council, amount to be used for development of sports in the state,” IANS quoted the notification.

This elicited instant outrage from high-profile athletes including Olympic medalist wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and Babita Phogat. Both have been known for flying the flag for the right-wing Hindutva ideology.

Angry Babita Phogat tweeted, “Respected Chief Minister ML Khattar ji, for how long you will have your eyes shut? For how long will the government continue to snatch away athletes’ rights? It now seems that athletes are no longer Haryana’s pride and instead they’ve now become the liability for the state. After all, what does the government want to prove?”

Phogat was mocked on social media with users poking fun at her previous tweets defending the BJP government by invoking soldiers’ plight at the border.

But that was not enough. The killer blow for Phogat came from her fellow athlete OP Jaisha, who minced no words while delivering a crash course on why sportstars should never side with any particular ideology. She tagged Phogat and wrote, “Dear @babitaphogat I appreciate your efforts & concerns for sporting community. Also appreciate you raising voice other sports personalities. I would also like to point out to that in past you had cuddled upto the same Govt. Sports & politics can’t go together. Choose your side.”

Jaisha, a middle distance runenr from Kerala, has won several titles for India including Asian Indoor Games and Asian Indoor Championships in 2005 and 2006 respectively. She had collapsed at the finish line in Rio Olympics after completing the marathon and had to be rushed to a hospital.

“I could have died there”, a distraught OP Jaisha had said as she recalled the women’s marathon event at Rio Olympics during which she claimed she was not provided any water and energy drinks by the officials despite designated stations were given for India.

Faced with criticism from players, the Haryana’s BJP government later decided to put the controversial notification on hold.

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