The Bangalore Turf Club authorities have lost their way. They think they have absolute power to do anything and their actions cannot be questioned. Despite being under intense media scrutiny about several dubious happenings and the government stepping in and ordering a CID enquiry, the authorities have not learnt their lessons. They think that they are living in a despotic world and they can take any undemocratic action even the despots would be shy of.
They believe that they can bar anyone from entering the race course because they feel slighted. And the committee has taken a decision not to allow us to enter their premises. But they are such cowards that despite writing to them to provide us with a copy of their decision, the reason for doing so and why they haven`t given us any charge-sheet or conducted an enquiry or what their grievances are, they haven`t done so. All that they have done is to take a caveat in the High Court and Civil Court anticipating that I might seek an ex-parte order. If they are right about their decision, why should they take a caveat? An act of cowardice indeed. The officials are scared to receive phone calls while the authorities simply have no face to show as they have become slaves of a few powerful members who seem to be calling the shots.
It is a pity that lack of suitable candidates has resulted in the club slipping into this sort of scenario where strife rules and financial crisis threatens its existence. These worthies are ignorant, immature and are not aware of the fact that we live in a democratic country and they cannot act like Fascists. They are used to browbeating the professionals by throwing their not so significant weight around. In the feudal set up of racing, the professionals have often accepted the insults and not tested their arbitrary action in a court of law because of fear of continuous persecution. This has emboldened them to act high and mighty. As has already been repeatedly highlighted, the crisis of leadership is responsible for this scenario where amateurs sit and take decisions like despots. To put in the words of a former Chairman of the Club, they are acting like ``nincompoops``. As the saying goes, Knowledge can never imprison you, but you can be captive to your ignorance.”
The BTC mandarins decided that I and my staff should be restricted from entering the race course just because I wrote articles critical of their acts which brought the sport to disrepute. They had no courage to refute the arguments because the points raised were very relevant and irrefutable. It is not that I have alone been critical of their functioning. The BTC members themselves, in a memorandum, accused the committee of corruption and nepotism. They also called for a probe into the betting indulged by these worthies. The licensing condition prohibits the Stewards and Committee members from betting. Their own former chairman wrote to the government that there is rampant doping and the betting mafia is controlling racing. However, these worthies have no courage to act on their own members who not only maligned the club but also took the matter to the court and the police.
But the Managing Committee feels that a journalist has no right to even say there is a crisis of leadership and negative thinking is ruling the mindset of these worthies. The authorities believe that they are modern-day Nazis. While the senior members of the committee have let down badly, the younger lot lack maturity and are at sea about what is happening. They believe that they can subdue the Fourth Estate.
The BTC`s action comes in the wake of being at the receiving end of the television channels and print media for the scandal that broke out about doping of horses, suppression of facts, misappropriation of funds and various other allegations which resulted in the CID enquiry. The public perception about BTC is at an all-time low. The government of Karnataka also stepped in and refused to grant the license to conduct racing activity till the completion of the CID enquiry. Four months of activity was halted before a court intervention to prevent the suffering of daily wage employees and others whose livelihood was being affected saw resumption of activities. The Court asked the government to consider restoring the license after forming a monitoring committee. Unfortunately, the monitoring committee also had only members of the club who rarely attend races, thereby defeating the very purpose of setting it up for protecting the integrity and to rein in the club administrators.
The committee is back to doing what they are best at by indulging in activities that will put the sport in serious peril. Most of the allegations about BTC had come from the members themselves giving more weight to these charges as some of them were also part of the managing committee for several years. Those who came in after the replacement of the previous office-bearers carry a heavy baggage.
Chairman Harimohan Naidu can tell a lie with a straight face. Even the statements averred in a Press Conference like taking a legal opinion about issuing the license to one trainer was all false. The club never sought legal opinion in that case. He also gave an affidavit in the court that the general body had passed a resolution to stop retired officials from being re-appointed. Later on, he justified his affidavit stating that though the resolution was not passed, he gave the affidavit in the court as the spirit of the general body meeting was equivalent to the resolution having been passed! The BTC had always increased the stall fee of bookmakers every year or every season but in Harimohan Naidu`s time, there was an instance of a stall fee having been reduced! One is not sure what the reason was, but it looked strange. The Chairman had also actively pursued the cause of an oats supplying company resulting in the conflict of interest.
The most egoistic, conceited and narrow-minded person among the committee members is Satish Chandra. During his tenure, because of his ego, there was a breakdown of the relationship between RWITC and BTC and the former had cut off signals for conducting of off-course betting. He can be seen acting as a racing manager for certain horses. When he was the Chairman of the club, in defiance of the Supreme Court order to maintain status quo about the structure and everything connected with the BTC premises, he spent enormous sums of money to decorate the front office which had a heritage look and reportedly used the opportunity to reward known contacts. If he is not a Steward, nobody would even bother to start a conversation with him. His vision or the lack of it has hurt the institution and it is a pity that he has one more year of the term left to cause more damage to the sport.
We were restrained because we do not want to cause any residual damage to the sport in our fight. The senior members of the club are guilty of letting things drift by their deafening silence. Unfortunately, the Managing Committee thinks that they can fight the media and still get away. Time only will tell whether the truth will emerge, or deceit will rule. The worst committee in the history of BTC is set to take the club hurtling to disaster unless the members wake up and show these worthies the door.