New Delhi: Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar was not the first choice for the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna with which he was honored this year. Major Dhyanchand, another sports legend who mesmerized hockey fans all over the world, was the first choice but he was replaced by Sachin at the last moments by the UPA Government.
According to Headlines Today, mail trail involving the Prime Minister's Office, showed how the government snubbed Dhyan Chand to favour Sachin.
On July 16 last year, then Sports Minister Jitendra Singh recommended the hockey legend's name for the Bharat Ratna which was acknowledged by former PM Manmohan Singh.. The internal PMO note reveals Dhyan Chand's name was making rounds for the award till early August 2013.
But things changed as clamour for Sachin Tendulkar, who was to retire soon, kept increasing and suddenly on November 14, the PMO asked the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to send the bio-data of Sachin Tendulkar and that too within a day. Ministry obeyed the order immediately.
Interestingly the UPA government got the approval for the eminent scientist CNR Rao and Tendulkar for the Bharat Ratna on the same day from the Election Commission. Incidentally, it was the last day of Sachin's cricketing career.
Reacting to the controversial switch, Dhyan Chand's son Ashok Kumar, himself an accomplished hockey player, said, "It is a matter of great disappointment for crores of Indians that Dhyan Chand's name was excluded and Sachin Tendulkar's name was brought forward. It was a political game played against Major Dhyan Chand."
Considered the greatest ever hockey player, Dhyan Chand helped India win three Olympic golds in the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics.