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BTC NEED TO QUICKLY PULL THE PLUG AND DIFFUSE CRISIS
BANGALORE
By Ikram Khan
Thursday 12 Oct 2017
Ikram Khan

The decision makers of the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC), it appears have run out of ideas how to bell the cat. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is adamant. He simply wants the club to give 50 memberships to the government nominees before the government provides the license to BTC to conduct off-course betting and the forthcoming winter races scheduled to start next month. The club members are reluctant. It is not that they want to defy or snub the government. They understand that the club needs the support of the government for the promotion of the sport at this premier racing centre. But what they fear is that it could result in a continues process, every new government in the state staking their claim and at the end it will be a `Political Club’. 

A couple of meeting including the all-important one with all the former chairmen and senior members of the club on Monday failed to arrive at a decision on how to pull the plug and diffuse the `membership bomb’. 

A few senior members disclosed that the opinion was divided with a section of the members wanting the club to concede to the government`s demand, while the other section suggesting that the club should explore the option of taking the matter to the courts. Few came about with the proposal to honour the government demand in phased manner, 25 to start with and the next 25 next year. With no definite direction emerging from the meeting, the club mandarins decided to call a special general body meeting of the club after the 21-day notice period.  

BTC chairman Harimohan Naidu said: “We understand that the alarm bells are ringing but my committee is confident that we will find a way, how to bell the cat.  The members are aware of the crisis and hopefully they will rally around to avert the crisis.”

Harimohan revealed that the court option is the last option and the club will do well to avoid a confrontation with the government. “The idea is to hold hands and walk with the government and it will happen,” said Harimohan.

Meanwhile more than 300 employees including a sizeable number of daily wage earners who are hit hard, no operations at the club from Sept 1 gathered in front of BTC protesting against the government decision to withhold the license of the club. Many women hit hard by the deadlock blamed both the BTC and the government for the long delay in providing a solution. “No one appears to be bothered about us and it is sad,” said a senior tote operator adding that it is getting increasingly difficult to manage home without earnings.       

It is also learnt that the owners who have made big investments in the game, not satisfied with the approach of the club and its members have decided to shift base to neighboring race clubs and that could well dent the image of the club.

It is clear that the onus is on the members. The government simply wants its pound of flesh. And the club cannot go back on the promise made to the government in summer. An industry with a turnover of nearly 2000 crores is now on the verge of bankruptcy if the problem is not sorted out quickly. And hopefully in the month ahead the thunder of the hooves will provide a lyrical ring rather than the ominous tone played out from Sept 1.