All for Mr. Gill

The Congress led UPA government faces a massive test because of the no-trust vote on July 22. I am mostly indifferent to their predicament and will reserve judgment on the nuclear issue and the state of the Indian economy, however, there is one thing which makes me pray for their survival. This government has finally given us a capable Sports Minister in M.S.Gill and as a sports loving Indian, I dread the thought of a new government in New Delhi because that will mean a return to the days of good-for-nothing Sports Ministers once again.

So what makes M.S.Gill better than the other Sports Ministers?

M.S.Gill is an avid sports enthusiast and hence he is concerned about the state of affairs of sports in this country. Most others have never known the A-B-C of sports and have not really bothered to do much. More importantly, he is willing to take initiative and actually make a tangible difference. Unlike the previous incumbent, Mani Shanker Aiyer, who was also a ‘sports fan’ (at least he claimed to be one) but was a spineless and dormant minister, M.S.Gill is action orientated and willing to use the power he wields

In a short stint of less than six months, M.S.Gill has done a lot. He first went ahead and forced the supremely dictatorial and grossly incompetent K.P.S Gill to step down from the post of IHF (Indian Hockey Federation) chief. This in spite of the fact that K.P.S still holds a lot of clout in Punjab, home state of both Gills, and his sacking could have had far reaching political implications. Mr Aiyer should now be literally forced to wear ‘Chudis’ (bangles) and sit at home.

He then incurred the wrath of politicians and film stars by calling for only sportspersons to be allowed as torchbearers in the Olympic torch relay. He then practised what he preached by refusing the invitation to be a torchbearer himself. The likes of Amitabh ‘UP’s poor farmer’ Bacchan were incensed but Gill didnt care a damn.

Furthermore, Mr Gill has lambasted the public broadcaster – Doordarshan for giving the Junior Asia Cup Hockey a miss. Most ministers have let Doordarshan misuse its position and dictate terms to sports federations and private channels but have rarely taken it to task for failing to fulfil its national obligations.

Mr Gill has also taken the initiative to talk to Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon and invite him to bring his team to India. The Spanish club are already interested and the minister’s move could give a major fillip to football in India. Compare that to the initiatives taken by another minister in the same UPA cabinet – Mr Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, who is also the head of the AIFF (All India Football Federation); he has ensured that India dropped 60 places in the FIFA rankings in his tenure.

Is there a scenario where the BJP could just settle for making the likes of Das Munshi the scapegoats for everything and let the others like Gill carry on? Or can the Congress offer Das Munshi’s head to pacify the Communists in West Bengal in return for their support?

Just imagine what Mr Gill could achieve if he is allowed to continue. Based on the mentioned points, we can say with reasonable confidence that M.S.Gill is easily the best Sports Minister that India has had in living memory. I would be very pained to see him go and be replaced by a total buffoon in the next cabinet.

It is the possibility of that pain that forces me pray that the UPA government survives their acid test. I appeal to all the sports loving Members of Parliament to forget their party loyalties and vote for the greater good of sport in this country.

Avnish Anand

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