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Haryana sports minister Anil Vij spurs controversy, donates Rs 50 lakh to Dera Sacha Sauda for promoting sports

The Haryana sports minister does not shy away from creating controversies.

Anil Vij has attracted controversy yet again by donating a huge amount to a controversial sect

Haryana sports minister Anil Vij has found himself in the middle of a controversy after announcing a Rs 50 lakh grant from his government discretionary fund to a religious sect known as the Dera Sacha Sauda for promoting sports. The minister had also added that he would have given more money to the sect if he had more.

Vij had announced the donation to the organisation during a visit to Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters at Sirsa on Saturday night where he also witnessed a sporting event named ‘Tiranga Rumaal Chu’. It is the controversial dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh who has introduced the game as he was also present when the minister announced the grant to loud cheers from the audience present.

Vij also mentioned in his announcement of the grant that he found the combination of kabaddi, kho-kho and wrestling, “very interesting”.

Whereas, Rahim Singh said that the money given by the minister would be used to prepare players for the next Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The dera chief said that a sports village will be built soon and that the players will be given the best training facilities to prepare for the Games. But there was no mention as to which sports the players will be prepared for. Interestingly, all the games which are played at the sect’s stadium are created by the dera chief himself and are not played at national or international level.

While the discretionary grant of the chief minister of the state is Rs 40 crore, the same for all other ministers is Rs 5 crores per year. The Khattar government of the state of Haryana had increased the discretionary grants of the CM and all other ministers within days of coming into power. It should also be noted that the Haryana government had donated crores to private gaushalas (cow shelters) in their state between November 2014 to January 2016.

The controversy also arises because there are currently no detailed guidelines or criteria for allocating such funds. Sources told the Hindustan Times, “The guidelines governing the discretionary grants are fuzzy and the release of funds depends on the discretion of ministers, leading to inconsistencies.”

However, the sports minister defended his actions saying, “What is wrong with it? They run schools, sports are promoted there. I cannot give more than this. If I had more money, I would have given it.” Vij is the same person who had recently been in the news for taking a big delegation which included two MLAs to Rio de Janeiro with the excuse of supporting Haryana’s athletes at the Olympic Games.

The most surprising thing about the donation is that the minister has donated the amount to the dera chief who has been known to assist political parties and has a command over crores of Rupees. He is also facing trial over the murder of a journalist in 2002 coupled with charges of sexually exploiting female followers.

The move does sound positive for Haryana’s sportspersons but the controversy surrounding it suggests that the amount has been wasted on the sect where unrecognised sports are played.

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