BAI president denies UP academy using public money

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Akhilesh Das Gupta Monday refuted allegations that it was using public money, allocated for training national shuttlers, to train players at Lucknow’s Babu Banarasi Das Badminton Academy, which is named after his father.

Media reports said that Indonesian coach Handra Meulyano, who has been hired by the union sports ministry on a monthly salary of $3,000, is yet to hold a national camp and was instead overseeing training at Uttar Pradesh Badminton Association’s (UPBA) Babu Banarasi Das Badminton Academy.

Das Gupta, who is the UPBA’s chairman, said the reports are baseless. He said the Banarasi Das Badminton Academy was not his personal academy and is owned and run by the UPBA. Das Gutpa said national junior and sub-junior camps are also being held at the Babu Banarasi Das Badminton Academy.

“The report is absolutely baseless. It is true that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has invited the coach but it must be understood that the Babu Banarasi Das Badminton Academy is owned and run by UPBA. It is not a private academy and is funded by UPBA’s sponsors, Yonex. National training camps for sub-juniors and junior players are held there,” said Das Gupta.

Das Gupta said the UPBA is not taking any government support in hosting training camps at the Babu Babu Banarasi Das Academy.

“We have a bunch of players, some from Uttar Pradesh and some from other states, who train there,” said Das Gupta, a member of Parliament – the Rajya Sabha – from the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Das Gupta also jumped to national coach Pullela Gopichand’s defence when asked if the BAI has filed an affidavit in response to a petition of Mumbai shuttler Prajakta Sawant, who has alleged mental harassment by Gopichand.

Prajakta was refused entry to the national coaching camp in Hyderabad. She also alleged that Gopichand promoted players from his own private academy.

“It is an old case now. We filed the affidavit with the Bombay High Court and I must say that if some player is not included in the national squad, it is due to performance and not anything else. Now to blame Gopichand for that, is wrong. And his badminton academy is one of the best in the world. We must have four Gopichand academies in the country,” Das Gupta said.

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