The Big Brother is not always kind to the small one. He plays mischief sometimes, makes the younger brother cry, for justice. Assam did the same to Meghalaya by snatching away the badminton event at the eleventh hour. Being the bigger state and BJP MPs elected from seven out of total 14 Lok Sabha seats, Assam definitely has a bigger say in decision making of the upcoming South Asian Games. Both the states are making final preparations for hosting the 12th edition of the Games from February 5 to 16. This has been a proud moment not only Meghalaya and Assam but for the whole North-east. India so far hosted thrice the SA Games since its first edition in Kathmandu in 1984. The last time the Games was held in the country was in 1995. The honour to host it was bestowed upon Guwahati and Shillong. And here comes the ugly controversy!
Meghalaya’s threat to pull out of the Games cannot be taken lightly. It already has taken a political twist. In fact, the drastic move of shifting the event after making all arrangements in Shillong was influenced by political elements. Allegations by activists in Meghalaya that upcoming BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sharma, who was the prominent face of Congress till a year ago, played a crucial role in the decision holds some water. Another factor is the newly-elected BJP president Sarbananda Sonowal, who is also the Union minister for sports and youth affairs. Both Sharma and Sonowal will be appreciated in the sports fraternity besides the general public of Assam for this decision, taken at the cost of Meghalaya. After all assembly election is knocking on the doors of Assam. Politicians know it better that every vote counts.
Interestingly, the state government in Assam is in a catch 22 situation in the whole event of Assam gaining one more event. Originally, Meghalaya was allotted eight disciplines including badminton while Assam was given 15 events. The Congress government in Assam cannot sympathise with its neighbouring counterpart, also ruled by Congress. At the same time it also cannot hail it because the ‘credit’ will pass on to BJP leaders like Sharma and Sonowal. If the badminton event is given back to Meghalaya, as the state has threatened to pull itself off the Games, there will be strong opposition from Assam. Neither the Congress nor the BJP in Assam would let it go, for political reasons. Had it not been so!
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on January 8, 2015)