New Delhi: Unfazed by rejection of his Bill, Sports Minister Ajay Maken said on Thursday that he would talk to his Cabinet colleagues to convince them but ruled out any such effort with regard to BCCI bigwigs.

Maken, who is keen to cleanse the system of managing the sports organisations by bringing in transparency and accountability, asserted that his attempt was to prevent any more scams like CWG.

Maken rejected contention of the opponents that he was bringing the National Sports Development Bill to ensure that government gets control of the sports bodies and expressed readiness to rework some of the clauses, except those linked to transparency and accountability.

“I am sure I will be able to reason out with people who are opposed (to the bill) because I am clear on one thing, we do not intend to control or be intrusive. We will discuss with them and we are willing to rework on any such provision which they feel government wants to control,” Maken said.

The Sports Bill was rejected by the Cabinet on Tuesday after several ministers, having interests in sports bodies, raised objections to many of the clauses, including cap on age and tenure restrictions. Maken said.

Asked specifically if he was willing to talk to BCCI officials to find a way out, Maken said “BCCI has already being talked to by our committee, so I would be talking to my cabinet colleagues, I will try to convince them and discuss with them.”

On the strong opposition by some Union Ministers to some clauses of the Bill, Maken said he was willing to have a re-look without compromising aspects like efficiency and transparency by bringing sports bodies under purview of RTI.

The Sports Minister was peeved at the BCCI's refusal to come under RTI, saying people of the country have a right to know how public money was being spent as the Cricket Board gets indirect government benefits like tax exemptions and land.

Insisting that BCCI cannot give the excuse of being an autonomous body to escape RTI scrutiny, he said the Cricket Board should consider itself a public authority under the RTI Act as it 'directly or indirectly' benefits from the government.

“We are just saying that information regarding accounts and functioning of the organisation should be given to the citizens, particularly when you are sending Indian teams outside for tournaments,” Maken insisted and asked “what is the problem in giving information to the public?”

He said the biggest public functioning that BCCI was performing was sending Indian team, representing the nation, outside for tournaments.

Maken also said that land has been given by the government free of cost for all cricket stadia in the country.

“If you talk about resources or grants, there are some indirect benefits. For example, did the DDCA have to pay for the land for Ferozeshah Kotla Ground? Whenever matches are organised, they earn in crores (of rupees),” he said.

He said the Cricket Boards also avail of entertainment tax and custom duty exemptions, get income tax benefits and don't pay for police security.

“They get so much money from tax benefits which is just like a grant,” he contended.

Farooq slams Maken's comments on sports bill

Union Minister Farooq Abdullah on Thursday took exception to Sports Minister Ajay Maken's remarks on Union Cabinet's "internal deliberations" on the National Sports Development Bill, accusing him of violating oath of secrecy.

"No Minister has the right to brief about internal deliberations of the Cabinet until and unless decided by the Cabinet as it is the violation of the oath of secrecy," Abdulla, who is the Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association, said.

Abdullah said Maken should look at the stadia which are under his control and ensure their good upkeep so that athletes get a chance to compete at international level.

"He has violated the secrecy clause of the Cabinet and we will take it up deliberately at the next Cabinet Meeting," said the Minister who was present in the Cabinet meeting where the draft of bill presented by the Sports Minister was rejected.

The Minister also said that there was nobody who was against RTI.

"There is nobody who is against RTI. None of us. I think Ajay Maken should realise that whatever happens in meeting cannot be discussed outside. What kind of Minister is he? We are not against RTI. What is there to hide. They (BCCI) are not getting any money from Government of India at all. So what sort of thing is he asking," he said.

He, however, added that he did not wish to take up the matter with the Prime Minister.

The Bill presented by Maken aimed at putting a age cap of 70 years for the heads of the sports bodies and also put them under the ambit of the Right to Information Act thus bringing more transparency in their affairs.

(Agencies)