Why can’t a city have a racecourse? That is the question. As the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) awaits renewal of its lease which expires this month, it is interesting to note all the excuses being trotted out by politicians about why the racecourse should become a public garden.
Horseracing is present in all the major cities of the world and one has to actually be proud that Mumbai has a racecourse in the heart of the city, the emerald of South Mumbai. To label something as elitist and inaccessible to the common man is hypocrisy. There are at least a dozen other clubs that sit on BMC land. These too demand memberships and only members are allowed access to club facilities. By that yardstick, every private club in Mumbai should be forced to shut down and turned into gardens, so that common people may have access to it.
In fact, the racecourse is open to the public for walking, jogging, exercising, whereas in other clubs one cannot enter unless one is a member or signed in by a club member as a guest. Why don’t the civic authorities look at them then? Is it because the Mahalaxmi racecourse is prime land in the heart of the commercial capital which can be used for a number of purposes?
One also has issue with the labels like ‘elitist’ or sentiments that ‘rich people have got rich by twisted means’ or that ‘to be rich is a crime’. So take away their parks from them, for as it is, they have enough. Politicians who are shedding crocodile tears for the poor are as rich, if not richer. Now that this theory is debunked, one can see the absolutely ludicrous reasoning being touted for not renewing the lease. It looks like it’s not just the horses who are wearing blinkers.