Turf Club impasse likely to continue

Turf Club impasse likely to continue

The impasse surrounding horse-racing in the city is set to continue as the Bangalore Turf Club is expected to shoot down the resolution to increase its membership here on Wednesday.

Racing has come to a standstill in Bengaluru since September 1 as the State Government has refused to grant licence to BTC to conduct betting - on-course and off-course. In a bid to address the issue and break the deadlock, BTC members on Wednesday are to vote on a resolution granting 50 membership seats to government nominees.

However, it has been reliably learnt that a vast majority of the members are against acceding to the government's demand. A mandate of taking the matter to the court is most likely to be passed. A highly-placed source revealed that of the 300 members, approximately 127 are set to be proxies of which 120 will vote against the resolution. Of the remaining 180, around 160 may attend of which a majority will also veto government's demand. The resolution needs a three-fourths majority to be passed.

"It has already been decided. BTC will not bend to the State Government's demands. They just can't dictate terms to us. Tomorrow if we accept, a year later a new government could come in and they'll demand the same as well. If we refuse, then they'll say you obliged to the previous government's demands, why not us. We can't set a precedent," said the source speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We are okay to broadbase membership but let them come through the right way. There are politicians who have gained membership through the right process. If I want to become an MLA or MP, I have to stand for an election and win. The same logic applies to the government."

When asked if taking on the government is a wise choice considering BTC's finances have taken a beating, the source said they have very little choice. "Hardly any government has been kind to us. They've always wanted to control us. We can't keep staying soft. At some stage, you need to take the fight to the opposition, however weak you are."

Another source, however, felt BTC members will have to swallow their ego for the betterment of racing. "One must realise the government has got all the power. They have nodal agencies like electricity board, water supply board and pollution board. Any one of them could put a spoke in BTC's wheels. Confrontational attitude never works. Most current members are not stakeholders in the business of racing. Hence the current 'I don't care attitude'."

"Owners and trainers are losing a lot of money. Syces and daily wage labourers, who live on hand-to-mouth existence, are the ones deeply affected. If members put the club and the livelihood of others above their vested interests, they wouldn't be fighting this battle which is needless."

A veteran administrator felt the entire problem is of BTC's making. "During our times too we had battles with the government but we were able to overcome it because we were united. Now the house is completely divided. A chairman shooting off a letter to the government alleging doping and betting mafia paints an extremely sorry picture.

"Unless the powers that be at BTC set aside their differences and put up a united fight, this battle can't be won. It's an extremely sad state of affairs."

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