It was a historic moment for Indian sports in February this year as the Union budget under the Khelo India scheme saw a record 48 percent hike — to ₹974 crore from ₹657.71 crore in 2021.
Former Asian Games silver-medallist in tennis, Manisha Malhotra, noted in a guest column that the increase was welcome “but the consequences are unknown”.
One such consequence, which is now facing sharp criticism from the sports fraternity across the country, is the state-wise budgetary allocation under the scheme.
The data, tabled by Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, shows that most non-BJP governed states — Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh in South India — received a meagre amount compared to BJP-ruled states.
Telangana has been sanctioned ₹24.11 crore for six projects, while Andhra Pradesh got ₹33.80 crore for seven projects.
Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been allocated ₹33 crore and ₹62.74 crore, respectively, for five projects each.
BJP-ruled states like Gujarat (₹608.37 crore for five projects), Uttar Pradesh (₹503.02 crore for 32 projects), Arunachal Pradesh (₹183.72 crore for 21 projects), and Karnataka (₹128.52 crore for 19 projects) were allocated a huge chunk of the budget.
Rajasthan is the only non-BJP-ruled state to get over ₹100 crore in funds.
While Maharashtra (now with a BJP-Shiv Sena coalition government) received ₹110.80 crore for 13 projects, Rajasthan got ₹112.26 crore for 45 projects.
The data was shared on Tuesday, 2 August, in response to a question during the ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament.
Tamil Nadu Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Siva V Meyyanathan told South First on Monday, 8 August: "We have sent more players to the CWG contingent than Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. Even in the Chess Olympiad, we have the highest number of 24 Grandmasters participating. Still, the Union government sanctioned more funds to them."
In the recently-concluded 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, Tamil Nadu athletes won a total of four medals whereas Telangana, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh athletes bagged six, five, and one medal(s), respectively. That takes these states' tally to 16.
On the other hand, four athletes from Gujarat, including two para-athletes, and two each from Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka finished on the podium.
"The Union government is snatching away the rights of Tamil Nadu, worse being that it even collected more GST from Tamil Nadu and is spending them on BJP-ruled states," alleged Meyyanathan.
The MLA from the Alangudi constituency in the Pudukkottai district added that Tamil Nadu spent ₹100 crore from its pocket for the Chess Olympiad, and "still the BJP accused it of not using Modi's picture in the advertisements".
(With inputs from Syed Umar Sharieef.)