Kohli with 'zero' points gets Khel Ratna, but Punia rejected
Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu were nominated for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna by the Sports Ministry. The two will be conferred with the award by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday i.e. September 25. However, the decision of choosing them over wrestler Bajrang Punia has not gone well. We tell you why.
Why the athletes objected to Kohli's nomination?
According to a report in The Times of India, the 11-member panel which decides the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awards "awarded" skipper Kohli with 'zero' points, and Chanu with 44 points. Notably, wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat scored 80 points each, and were among six others who scored more than Chanu, but didn't get the award.
Interestingly, there is no criteria for scoring the cricketers
Though the disappointment over choosing Kohli is natural, it is no secret that there is no set criteria for cricket, which is not an Olympic sport. And, that's why selection of cricketers for the award often leads to controversies.
Punia says he is "hurt" over the selection
Unsatisfied by the nominations for the award, Bajrang Punia said he was "hurt" and questioned the selection criteria. "I am hurt for not being recognized for my talent and performances, I don't know what was the criteria of selection for this award," he said. He, further, added that he tried to reach Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, but hasn't gotten any reply so far.
Will meet the Sports Minister: Punia
"I'll meet him in person to inquire about the matter. Now my hopes are pinned on him as I believe I am one of the eligible candidates for the award. I just want to know why I was being ignored. I want to know the reason," he said. He also threatened to move court. "It would be my last option," he said.
"This is my personal battle"
Bajrang denied involving the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI). "The federation forwarded my name and that means they are with me. But this is my personal fight," he said. Notably, Punia has won gold medals in the Asian Games at Jakarta and CWG in Gold Coast. He had also won a World Championship Bronze medal in 2013 and Silver in 2014.