The only Prime Minister who showed an apparent interest in Indian sports before Narendra Modi was Rajiv Gandhi. It was to Gandhi’s credit that the 1982 Asian Games could be organised. It was he who, in principle, also agreed to India hosting the Commonwealth Games. Left to two other Prime Ministers, Morarji Desai and Chaudhary Charan Singh, the funding for the Asian Games would have been too tight-fisted. The latter thought the money earmarked for the Games could have been better spent on rural reconstruction and wanted the Games to be conducted on a shoe-string budget, without wasting money on so many new fly-overs to ease the traffic congestions in the national capital.
Modi’s Mann ki Baat on Sunday touched upon almost all key performances and performers. He must have instructed his speechwriter to cover all aspects of the Games. Importantly, he pointed out that some of the athletes “could not even touch during the Games their own performance level which they had achieved during the domestic events”.