Mahesh Bhupathi, who led a revolt of 11 players against the All India Tennis Association, has slammed the AITA for the way it formed a three-member panel to look into the issues raised by the rebels, alleging that the panel would be “biased” and serve no purpose.
The AITA on Sunday formed a three-member committee, which includes Justice Deepak Verma and former Davis Cupper Naresh Kumar, to resolve the issues with the rebel players, but Bhupathi said the panel was formed to divert attention from the “real issues”.
“I am very skeptical about the formation of the committee because the committee has been given a mandate to submit a report in four months while India's next tie will be held in a few weeks' time. This was a ploy by the AITA to divert attention from the real issues. I don't see any urgency on the part of the AITA,” Bhupathi said.
“It is very disturbing and frustrating for us. We were hoping that somebody from the management would take charge and try to sort out the issues. It seems that the AITA does not want to engage with us,” he said.
After losing to South Korea 1-4 in the Asia/Oceania Group I tie, India play Indonesia from April 5-7 in the first round play-off encounter.
Bhupathi also said that he had reservations about the composition of the committee.
“Two of the members have no tennis background and by putting Naresh Kumar in the committee, there is no chance of the committee being unbiased. I have a lot of respect for Naresh, he has been India captain but some of the writings from his notepad which has been shared in the media have not gone down well with a lot of people,” he said.
"All in all, it is very frustrating for us and it is not going to do any good to Indian tennis. We have expressed our views and we will stick by them which we believe would serve Indian tennis well," Bhupathi told NDTV.
Bhupathi also slammed AITA Chief Executive Officer Hironmoy Chatterjee for his remarks against the rebel players but said that he and other players were not interested in joining issues with him.
"I have read what Chatterjee had said at the press conference (on Sunday). He had used harsh words like we are blackmailing the AITA. That has not gone down well with many of us. We can say so many things about which the AITA has not done for so long. There is no reason why the AITA should not contact us," he said.
"Hope something comes out soon. It was very disappointing to see India losing to South Korea but if the AITA remains like this more disappointment will be in store against Indonesia in April," he added.
AITA had agreed to most of the demands of the players like business class air travel and an increase in their share of Davis Cup prize money, but it had put its foot down on selection matters.
The players had demanded that captain S P Misra, coach Nandan Bal, physiotherapist Sanjay Singh and doctor Vece Paes be changed. AITA had agreed but said the players cannot impose their choice as selection was prerogative of the federation.
AITA had removed Bal, Paes and Singh, but stuck with Misra for at least the Korea tie.