PV Sindhu arguably fought the most intense battle of her sporting career for an Olympic silver medal at Rio. Back home, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are locked in a game of one-upmanship over the badminton star.
As rewards started to flow for badminton star PV Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi Malik, who ended the country’s interminable wait at the Games with bronze in the 58kg category, the two states are apparently aiming to outdo each other to show their appreciation for the Olympic heroes.
The Telangana government led the list, declaring cash award of Rs 5 crore as well as 1000 sq yards of land for Hyderabad-based Sindhu, besides a job to her.
Rao also declared a cash prize of Rs 1 crore for Sindhu’s coach Pullela Gopichand for his badminton academy.
The announcement at a news conference came hours after his Andhra Pradesh counterpart N Chandrababu Naidu promised Rs 3 crore for Sindhu, who ran world No 1 Caroline Marin of Spain close before losing in the almost 90-minute final.
Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014 after a long — and occasionally violent — agitation, intensifying the bitter political rivalry between Rao and Naidu.
“There is a need to encourage sports personalities. Like Sania Mirza, who brought laurels by winning several tournaments after encouragement by the government, we hope Sindhu will also bring many laurels by winning many more tournaments in the future. She is coming to Hyderabad on August 22. The Cabinet has decided to accord her a grand reception,” Rao said.
Sindhu, incidentally, has also been offered a Group 1 officer’s job by the Andhra government.
It was not clear if Andhra Pradesh will also host a reception for Sindhu.
With other states and individuals stepping in, Sindhu, the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal, will get over Rs 13 crore while Sakshi will be richer by around Rs 5 crore.
The Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi announced Rs 2 crore for Sindhu and Rs 1 crore for Sakshi on Saturday.
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia made the announcement during a visit to Malik’s house in Haryana’s Rohtak where he met the wrestler’s parents. Sisodia also recommended a promotion for Malik’s father Sukhbir who works as a conductor with Delhi Transport Corporation.
The Haryana government will also give Rs 2.5 crore to Sakshi.
Sindhu has also been awarded Rs 75 lakh by her employers, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, which has also promoted her to deputy manager (sports) from assistant manager.
And both players will be awarded cash prize under the sports ministry’s special scheme for Olympic medallists. Sindhu will get Rs 50 lakh while Sakshi be eligible for Rs 30 lakh.
Last but not the least, actor Salman Khan, Indian Olympic Association’s brand ambassador, had announced Rs 1.01 lakh for each Indian athlete in Rio.
“Saw the (badminton) finals on tv with my mother and told her I have a picture with Sindhu. Proud (sic),” Salman tweeted.
Sindhu has been promised a BMW by former Andhra cricket captain, V Chamundeshwarnath, while she will get Rs 50 lakh each from the Badminton Association of India, Haryana government as well as the Madhya Pradesh government.