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New twist in Khel Ratna controversy: Anjali Bhagwat claims Poonia lobbied with her

 "She (Poonia) called me and asked me to recommend her name for the Khel Ratna award the day before the panel met," Bhagwat told PTI.

A miffed Bhagwat said it was not right on Poonia's part to claim that it was she who got the list changed at the last moment to include Double trap World Champion Ronjan Sodhi's name in place the discus thrower.

"It was very cheap on Poonia's part to publicly say that I was the one who had got the list changed," she added. 

Krishna Poonia
Krishna Poonia

Sodhi's name was recommended for the Khel Ratna award last week, sparking a controversy with some members of the panel questioning the process of his selection.

It was learnt that Sodhi's name was not there when the majority of members decided to vote for the Khel Ratna awardee.

A selection panel member had said that Poonia and London Paralympics silver medallist H N Girisha were shortlisted for voting by 11 out of 12 selection panel members and Sodhi's name was not considered initially. According to reports, the scenario, however, changed after Bhagwat came in late for the meeting and Girisha's name was removed.

Eventually the voting was for the selection of either Sodhi and Poonia.

After the chorus for considering Poonia's name for the Khel Ratna grew, Sports Minister Jitendra Singh had meetings with his secretary P K Deb to discuss the matter. But the Ministry clearly indicated that there will not be any change in the original list of awardees.

Discuss thrower Krishna Poonia today rubbished allegations that she had lobbied for the prestigious Khel Ratna award, saying she was only raising her voice against the "injustice" meted out to her.

"I want to clarify that I was not doing any lobbying. Wrong has been done to me, and I was only raising my voice against that. That can't be called lobbying. It's wrong," Poonia said.

The athlete's reaction came after ace shooter and Khel Ratna selection panel member Anjali Bhagwat revealed that Poonia had called her to lobby for the top honour just a day before the committee met.

"Firstly, I want to say that if I indeed had to lobby then Sports Minister is from Rajasthan and so am I. If I was to indulge in lobbying, I could have done it before the list was announced.

"I have faith in my performance and I don't have to indulge in lobbying. In 2003, when K M Beenamol and Anjali Bhagwat won the Khel Ratna, did Bhagwat indulge in lobbying?," she asked.

Poonia also said she was not politicising the award. "I am not politicising the award. As I had said earlier, if I was to politicise, I could have done it before the list was announced. 

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