New Delhi, Oct 29: Sports Minister Ajay Maken will be conspicuous by his absence at the inaugural F1 Grand Prix tomorrow, but he made it clear that he was never expecting an invitation after the organisers' request for Rs 100-crore tax exemption was turned down by him.
“I was never expecting an invite from the F1 organisers. I am not a star or a celebrity or an item girl, I am only a Sports Minister. When I rejected their request for tax exemption and custom duty, then why should I expect an invitation,” Maken told PTI from Kozhikode.
His comments came after no formal invitation had been extended to him for the event by the promoters Jaypee Group, which is being widely interpreted as a deliberate snub.
“Any tax exemption is as good as granting aid. The P T Usha academy does not have a synthetic track, it is such projects which require government support rather than F1,” the minister added.
A top source in the Sports Ministry said that the organisers had sent two passes to Maken at his residence.
“It is not the way to invite the Sports Minister to such an event. It is nothing but a deliberate slight to the Minister,” the source said.
The Jaypee Group, which has built the spanky Buddh International Circuit at a cost of around Rs 2000 crore, had appealed to the government to reconsider the tax exemption issue but the Sports Ministry rejected it on October 24.
The source said that the Commonwealth Games and the Cricket World Cup were granted tax exemptions because of certain pre-conditions that the championship would be held in India after such a commitment was available.