first_imgNew Delhi, Sep 1 (PTI) Despite Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowals stout defence of the selection policy for National Sports Awards, ace cueist Pankaj Advani says “lobbying” does influence the selection of athletes for the honour. “There is a lot of lobbying that happens (for the awards). You need to get people (on selection panel) who are extremely fair and take it as it comes and judge performances of athletes equally,” said Advani days after Sania Mirza received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, countrys highest sporting honour. Just when it seemed there would be no controversy in the lead up to this years function, para-athlete H N Girisha approached the Karnataka High Court challenging Sanias last-minute recommendation for Khel Ratna. The Sports Ministry was fighting a court case 12 hours before Saturdays ceremony with wrestling coach Vinod Kumar approaching the Delhi High Court, claiming he was more deserving for the Dronacharya award than his rival Anoop Singh, whose name was recommended by the government-appointed panel. Both cases are still pending in the court. Advani said he was not a fan of taking legal route to get awards and hopes the government does enough to restore the credibility of the awards. “I am sure government will find a way to restore sanctity of the awards. I am not too happy with the idea of taking the legal route. I am not a fan of that,” said the 30-year-old, whose last world title came in the six-red snooker format last month. Asked about Sania getting the honour he received in 2006, Advani, a 13-time world champion said, “I will talk about a broader topic. We all get carried away by hype in our country. If someone does something big, it becomes nationwide news. It is a herd mentality. If the achievement is not hyped, it is forgotten within couple of days. That is how it is. “What I want to say to the government is that lets treat every sporting achievement in a pure way. Not based on the popularity of the sport. I dont think the intention of the government is to give awards to people who dont deserve it. I remember when I got Khel Ratna it was a very fair process. I was up against two strong candidates, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rahul Dravid, I had the most number of points and I got it. We should not be swayed by the popularity of the sport,” he said. PTI BS AT BSadvertisementlast_img read more

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