Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said today he was "very sad" to see "disrespect for sports" as he reacted to senior Maharashtra ministers and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar using a sports stadium racetrack to park their cars during a meeting in Pune.
"I'm personally very sad to see such disrespect for sports and sporting ethics in our country," tweeted Mr Rijiju, Sports Minister.
"As it is we are lacking in sufficient sports facilities in our country. All the sports centers need proper care," he said.
On Saturday, Sharad Pawar, the former chief of the Indian Olympics Association, visited Pune's Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex along with state Sports Minister Sunil Kedar and Minister of State Aditi Tatkare to review a project.
Images of their cars parked on the racetrack were posted on Twitter by BJP MLA Siddharth Shirole."
It is one thing for the Sport Commissioner of MH to apologize for this disgraceful act... but when will the tall leaders of the #MVA apologize to the athletic community for disrespecting & destructing their hallowed ground with an act that clearly was a brazen abuse of power https://t.co/6EogZYXca0- Siddharth Shirole (@SidShirole) June 27, 2021
Apologising for the incident, Pune officials said only one vehicle was to be parked on the cement concrete road near the track - that of Mr Pawar, who had asked for permission to do so because of a problem in his leg.
The ministers reportedly did not want to use the elevators to the second floor of the sports complex, which houses a meeting room. To avoid the inconvenience, the ministers decided to take the cars up to the second floor of the complex and park on the track, according to ANI.
The cars were reportedly parked until the meeting ended.
The Pune administration put out an apology. "The incident has been noted by the Sports Minister and instructions have been issued to make sure that such an incident is not repeated again. Going forward it will be made sure that vehicles are not allowed at an athletic track," the Pune District Information Officer said in a statement.
Om Prakash Bakoria, Sports Commissioner of Maharashtra, told ANI that since Mr Pawar had some problem with his leg, he was allowed to park his car on the cement track.
The other cars simply parked without permission.
"Pawar Saheb has an issue with his leg, if he was taken from another side he would have to climb two to three staircases hence only his vehicle was allowed. The vehicle was allowed on cemented track only and guards on duty were informed the same as well. But unfortunately, the vehicles came in a row (on track). It was allowed just to make site he does not face problems in walking. On behalf of the sports department I apologise for it and assure you that such an incident will not be repeated again," Mr Bakoria was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.