Yesterday, this paper ran a front-page report about how a section of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) is unhappy about the state government’s Code of Conduct imposed on western India’s apex racing body, prior to the committee elections to be held on September 8. The code of conduct stipulates that candidates must not hold parties in the run-up to the election to lure voters. Cocktail dos and gifts to induce the electorate into voting for certain candidates are forbidden. What this essentially asks for is that elections be fought on merit this time, instead of those traditional woo-the-voter glitzy dos.
Those familiar with the racing body know that the election run-up is party-hearty time for the electorate. Gifts flow, parties abound and expensive liquor is an added incentive at these meets. The code of conduct aims to tackle this aspect and put certain restrictions on contesting candidates, including one that states they should restrict election spending to R50,000. Those who have racing at heart will be hoping for less muck flying around this year.
Last year saw a particularly bitter contest with some tapes surfacing at the last minute with excerpts of conversations about ‘fixing’ people with doping allegations. The run-up sometimes witnesses slanging matches between rivals and selective bits of information are leaked to the media, which is now also part of the circus.
One would be naïve to think that every club has a clean, controversy-free election. Certainly not. But, this year, let us see real issues discussed; no empty promises and less of these cloak-and-dagger games where letters maligning candidates surface in members mails. Huge ego battles are played out in bitter detail on the turf, but let’s focus instead on bringing huge crowds to the course, better facilities for punters, clean racing, tackling jockey’s problems. These are perennial issues that need attention; less exciting perhaps, but more essential to the subject on hand: racing in Western India.