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|August 9, 2001||
Uma Bharati slams Milkha SinghOnkar Singh
Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Uma Bharti slammed legendary athlete Milkha Singh for criticising the delayed decision to honour him with the Arjuna award and for clubbing him with others who have little to boast of in the world of sports.
Bharti said that one could express his anguish but should not make it a prestige issue.
"I have read Milkha Singh statements in newspapers. It is all right if you express your anger once. We would accept it because he is the best known person in the world of Indian athletics. But to harp on the same issue repeatedly is wrong. By doing this, he is belittling the achievements of other fellow sportspersons.
"Sometimes the award is given for the performance of an individual, sometimes for the glamour and sometimes for both. Milkha Singh is being given the Arjuna award for his life time achievement," she explained.
Meanwhile, the Union minister admitted that the government's spending on the Afro-Asian Games would go up. The games are to be held in New Delhi from November 3-11, later this year.
"As of today, the government of India is likely to spent Rs 150 crore (Rs 1.5 billion) on the Games," she said.
She blamed the Indian Olympic Committee for the sharp rise in the expenses.
"They first said that they would bear 50 per cent of the total expenses. Then they said they would bear the costs of the athletes and officials along with their airfares.
"Later, they backed out of even that and thereby put the entire burden on the government," she said.
Defending the huge expenses being incurred on an event in which a mere eight countries would be participating, Bharati said, "This is the first Afro-Asian Games. You should look at the Asian Games organized by India in 1951.
"Whenever such events are held for the first time, the expenses are bound to be high. We want more and more medals for the Indian athletes," she said.
Even if it meant we were the only ones participating?
"I would not like to answer this question," she said.
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