India's sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore hit back at Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give hockey the status of the national sport of India.
Rathore, who was present at the Al Wasl Sports Complex in Dubai, to witness the Kabaddi Masters tournament, addressed the media after India's 36-20 win over arch-rivals Pakistan on Friday.
When asked about CM Patnaik's request to make hockey the national sport, Rathore retorted by saying, "We should ask the Odisha CM why he or his government did not do anything to spread awareness about yoga, which has been in our country for thousands of years."
He further went on to state that no one sport should be given such an "official position" by the government.
"There is room for every sport in India. There was a time when people used to say that cricket is like a banyan tree, and nothing else can grow around it," said Rathore. "Now, look how many sports are popping up in our country. It is not necessary for us to give an official position to every sport for people to start following it."
Earlier this week, CM Patnaik had written a letter to PM Modi, requesting the central government to make hockey the national sport. This letter was made public via the CMO's official Twitter handle.
Despite the fact that the common notion among the people of the country is that hockey is the national sport, an RTI in 2012 revealed that this is not the case. In fact, India does not have any official national sport.
Incidentally, the Government of Odisha, where the Biju Janta Dal is currently in power, has been one of the biggest supporters of the national hockey team. The Odisha government was even announced as the official shirt-sponsors of the men's and women's national teams, earlier this year.
Additionally, Bhubaneswar, the capital of the state is set to host the FIH Men's Hockey World Cup in November/December.
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