The Democratic Front government finds itself on a sticky wicket in attending to one of the state’s favourite sons. Despite many letters and reminders, cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar never responded to the administration’s proposal of setting up a museum devoted to his contribution to the game.
Similarly, he did not display the slightest enthusiasm towards Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation’s (MTDC) pitch to appoint him as the brand ambassador of state tourism. Now, the government is keeping its fingers crossed, as it awaits his response to a grand felicitation ceremony to mark his retirement from the game.
The state government had in 2010 proposed to institute the museum, and a decision in this regard was adopted in a cabinet meeting chaired by the then chief minister Ashok Chavan. Accordingly, the state tourism and cultural affairs department drafted a blueprint and began efforts to contact the cricketer. But, despite sustained correspondence, Tendulkar never responded, nor did he acknowledge any of the letters written by the administration, said a senior government official, requesting anonymity.
A few telephone calls were made to his personal assistant to arrange a meeting with him, or at least gauge his ideas on the museum, and his contribution in the form of mementoes or trophies. But, no response came, the official added. The state plan never moved an inch further, and the bid to establish the museum remained on paper. The department stopped making any further efforts after a year or so. It was déjà vu when the state tried to use Tendulkar as a mascot for tourism. MTDC secretaries and even the minister concerned wrote several correspondences to the master batsman, who again chose not to offer a shot.
With no feedback forthcoming, MTDC approached an agency that handled Tendulkar’s professional commitments. The agency said the cricketer had reserved 160 days in the year for endorsements that were both commercial and social in nature. And they had just 3-4 days left in the kitty. But, the fee quoted by the agency to MTDC was astronomical, with riders, such as it would be impossible for the cricketer to travel to a tourist destination for shoots, which would have to be done at a studio in Mumbai. MTDC was left with no option but to retire hurt.
Similarly, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been unable to realise its dream of organising a farewell reception for the cricketing genius, despite making efforts to convey suitable dates for the function it wishes to arrange on a grand scale. It seems no politician from the state, who can personally communicate with him, or maintains a capacity to convince him to accept such offers, has ever spoken to Tendulkar.
Now, a seven-member committee, headed by sports minister Padmakar Walvi, has been entrusted with the responsibility to contact him for a suitable day and venue to felicitate him. A government order issued on Thursday has asked the committee to decide on the memento to be given to him during the ceremony.
Pulling out all the stops
The seven-member committee comprises additional chief secretary of the sports department, state director for sports, divisional deputy director of sports, as its members. CM Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar would officiate as patrons on the committee, says the government order. Efforts to contact Walvi to get more details failed, as he is touring Nandurbar district.