‘Political consensus a must’

KATHMANDU: Former National Sports Council (NSC) Member Secretary Jeevan Ram Shrestha stressed on the need of political consensus for the overall development of Nepali sports.

“I stepped down to pave way for the new leadership after the change of guard in government,” said Shrestha during his farewell function organised by the national sports associations today. Shrestha said he resigned on moral grounds keeping in the tradition where political appointees step down after the change of the portfolio in the ministry. “Such practices should be changed and that once you are appointed for a job you should assume the office for full term,” said Shrestha.

“Governments keep changing. It’s a natural process in democracy but changing guards in all sectors after every new government will only invite instability. All politaical parites, therefore, should reach a consensus to pave way for development of each sector, let alone the Sports,” said Shrestha.

Shrestha was at the helm of the NSC for three years and 15 days in his second tenure. The tenure of a Member Secretary is four years. His earlier stint as the Member Secretary was for nine months during the CPN (UML)-led government in 2054 BS. Shrestha was nominated for the job when CPN-UML got the Education and Sports Ministry portfolio after the Jana Andolan II. He resinged from the office after Tarai Madhesh Loktantrik Party got the Youth and Sports Ministry recently.

The former Member Secretary also highlighted the positive changes he introduced in sports. “I personally feel proud to have succeeded in drawing keen interest in sports from the leaders of the major political parties during my stint,” said Shrestha.

Shrestha, who is also the General Secretary of Nepal Olympic Committee and President of Nepal Ski Association, said that he would continue to work for the betterment of the Nepali sports. Shrestha refuted allegations that he rampantly recruited political cadres in the NSC during his stint. Shrestha was recently assinged by his party (CPN-UML) to head the yet-to-be formed Sports Division. “I have initiated several projects and hope that the incoming leadership will give continuity to it,” he said.

Shrestha was dragged into controversy after dissolving 15 national sports associations including the elected ones. It was during his reign the football crisis reached its pinnacle, disrupting national league for two years. He also made a controversial decision forming a parellel football assciation — the Nepal Football Association (NFA).

Shrestha also introduced a highly ambitious Vision 2020 project in a bid to win gold medal in Olympics. Of the other notable achievements during his office were the organisation of the long-stalled fifth National Games and establishment of Sports Medicine and Research Centre and the Player Welfare Fund of Rs 10 million. He also laid the foundation stone of the proposed Central Sports Academy in Hetauda.

Speaking on behalf of the national associations, All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) president Ganesh Thapa said that he was looking forward to see Shrestha in a new role. “A man like Shrestha, who knows Nepali sports so well, will always be an asset for us and we hope to see him as a Sports Minister in future,” said Thapa, who was involved in a war of words with Shrestha particularly after the NSC registered the NFA. President of Nepal Badminton Association Prakash Bahadur Shahi presented a token of love to Shrestha on the occasion.