Disgruntled Hockey India (HI) secretary Narinder Batra Wednesday launched a tirade against cricket legend Kapil Dev, who headed the Arjuna Awards selection committee, calling him an opportunist and said the World Cup-winning captain settled an old score with him by ignoring seven hockey players for the Arjuna Award.
Batra's comments came a day after the Arjuna Awards selection committee reviewed the list of the 15 players, who were chosen for the honour and decided that there was no need for additional names.
Batra, in a statement, said Kapil was trying to get even with him after his recommendations denied the former all-rounder's company Dev Musco some contracts in installing floodlights in Bhubaneswar and Haryana.
Batra took offence to Kapil's 'Who is Batra?' comment and said: "Kapil Dev approached 'Who is Batra' during the period Ferozshah Kotla Cricket Stadium was being rebuilt to ensure that Dev Musco gets the order for high mast lights. Then 'Who is Batra' told him that lowest bidder amongst GE, Phillips, Bajaj and Dev Musco will get the order. He even got messages sent to 'Who is Batra' through a common friend from Manchester called one Mr. M. Bhatia who is also from Chandigarh, to help Dev Musco and give order to Dev Musco."
Batra also said that when Hockey India League (HIL) was started in 2013, the broadcasters wanted better quality lights for high definition telecast and when HI approached Dev Musco they quoted 10 times higher than others.
"When we started Hockey India League (HIL) in 2013, the broadcast and production wanted to ensure that the lux levels of lights in all stadiums are sufficient for high definition production and telecast. We approached Dev Musco, the rates they quoted were 10 times higher that others, hence we got it done through others," said Batra.
Batra also said that Dev Musco wanted favours from him in installing lights at hockey stadiums in Bhuvaneshwar, Jind, Hissar and Rohtak, which he politely refused.
"Kapil Dev is a respected elite athlete and has selective amnesia, and if he had any grudge or score to settle with me, then he should not have taken it out on the seven hockey athletes, who were all rated as incompetent and ineligible based on the views of fraud hockey expert Anupam Ghulati in the committee," he said.
"Elite athletes come at India level after years of hard work, shame on you Kapil Dev for handling your responsibilities as chairman of the committee with such petty thoughts and unfair and biased attitude," he said.
Batra branded Kapil as a rebel of Indian cricket and called him an opportunist.
"You started a parallel cricket league and from an elite athlete became a rebel and criticised BCCI and made good money out of it. You have every right to make money and why not. The BCCI announced handsome prize money for 1983 World Cup winners and monthly/annual pension for ex-India players. You being a rebel might not have got the money from BCCI. I know where you went and cried to get back into the BCCI fold... For you we say 'Moukatarian'," he said.
Batra also filed petitions under the Right to Information Act seeking information from the sports ministry about the details of the selection procedure of the Arjuna Awards and qualifications and achievements of a member Anupam Gulati.