Sahara Group chairman Subrata Roy on Saturday said "nasty politics" has dented India's chances of winning a medal in tennis at the London Olympics and sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in AITA's controversial selection process.
Roy came out in support of tennis star Leander Paes, who has been forced to pair up with lower-ranked Vishnu Vardhan after AITA decided to field two teams for the London Games following Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna's unwillingness to pair up with Paes.
"A best bait of getting a medal in Olympics has been smashed due to nasty politics of some irresponsible big individuals of India," Roy said in a statement.
"I appeal (to) our beloved Prime Minister to do justice for the country and Leander Paes and kindly punish such people who are anti-national," he added.
Roy expressed his disappointment at the last-minute changes in the selection process by All India Tennis Association and appealed to the sports lovers to join hands and take up the issue in a big way to curb politics in sports.
"We are trying our best to get medals for the country, we are spending money for that and there are people playing politics with our medal chances," Roy told PTI in a telephonic interview.
"It is so bad, politics is being played in sport and my request is that we should all react in a big way to such practices. There should not be any politics in sports and we strongly feel against the last-minute change of Indian tennis team," he added.
Roy said Paes has been "sacrificed at the altar of egos, dirty politicking and unnecessary political intervention", despite being ranked seventh in the world which "allows Leander a direct entry into the London Games and also allows him to choose his partner."
The Sahara group chief also said that "AITA, Sports Ministry supported personal benefit at the cost of country's interest". Roy raised a number of questions on AITA's decision and described the last week as the "worst week of Indian sport".
"Several questions continue to bother us in the aftermath of what has been one of the worst weeks in Indian sport: Why was the AITA forced to change its original selection of 15 June? Was there political intervention and if so why is the AITA silent about it? Why should the nation's number one player be forced to surrender to political racketeering of the nastiest manner," he questioned.
"Does Leander, one of the greatest patriots India has produced, deserve this?
"One team would have been Leander with Bopanna/Mahesh, but due to nasty politics they have made two teams. 2nd Team as Leander with (a) 205th ranked player," he added.
Roy hoped Paes would get his due from his countrymen.
"Indian Tennis may have treated him badly. We are sure that the nation will not. Friends, fans and millions of Indians will ensure that he gets his due and is able to represent his beloved country in Olympics for the 6th time in a row, a feat achieved by just a handful of sportsmen in the world and first person from India and surely the Indian Olympic Association would have done well to snap out politics from raising its ugly head before London 2012," he said.
Sahara Group is associated with Indian sports for many years now. They have been the official sponsors of the Indian Cricket Team since 2001 and also owns IPL team Pune Warriors.
They have also been associated with Indian Hockey team, Formula One team Force India, among others.