Soon after Dipa Karmakar said that it was difficult to drive and maintain a BMW car in interior Agartala, where she stays, the man who gifted her the car transferred Rs 25 lakh to the Rio Olympics fourth-place finisher’s bank account. Contrary to what people think, the BMW was not given by Sachin Tendulkar, but by V Chamundeswaranath, a former Andhra batsman. Chamundi, as his friends call him, has arranged at least 17 vehicles as gifts for several sports achievers. He is well known in the Hyderabad social circle and has played 44 first-class games. After retirement in 1991/1992, he became a cricket administrator, Team India’s manager for the 2009 World T20 and an influential badminton official.
According to an Indian Express report, Chamundi has links with top corporate houses and is a “nice man” to know for those looking for big business breaks. A compulsive networker, Chamundi is best known for his proximity to mega cricket stars — first Mohammad Azharuddin, now Sachin Tendulkar. These links, business and cricketing, are what helped the 57-year-old arrange those four-wheeled gifts to India’s Rio stars — P V Sindhu, P Gopichand, Sakshi Malik and Karmakar. The initial plan was to gift the cars to Sindhu and Gopichand, both from Hyderabad, by pooling resources from a group of NRIs, film producers, and a city-based industrialist, he says.
“My friends and I had enough money to gift two BMWs. Sachin helped me by getting a discount from BMW and we were able to hand over the keys of four cars. It was Sachin’s idea to give four cars instead of only two,” Chamundi told Indian Express, explaining how Sakshi and Dipa got on that list. When Gopichand won the All-England title in 2001, Chamundi presented him with a Hyundai Accent. Two years later, when Sania Mirza won the Wimbledon girl’s doubles title, she got a Fiat Palio — again, the promoter was Chamundi, while Tendulkar managed a discount.
In 2012, the two were again in the frame as Saina Nehwal was given a BMW for her bronze at the London Olympics. During that function, Chamundi made a promise to Sindhu. “I had promised that if she wins an Olympic medal, Sachin would present her with the keys of a BMW, too. The idea of getting Sachin to present cars is to motivate athletes to do better,” says Chamundi. Kidambi Srikanth, badminton World No 10, was given a Ford Ecosport when he beat the legendary Lin Dan to win the China Super Series event. He and Tendulkar had contributed Rs 1 crore to cash incentives for India’s Para-Olympians recently.
Chamundi was removed as the secretary of the Andhra Cricket Association in 2009, following allegations of the financial wrong-doing. He was also named in a sexual harassment case by a group of women cricketers. “Those cases are over, all that was done by my rivals in the cricket association,” he said. Chamundi, then co-owned the Indian Badminton League team, Mumbai Masters and now holds dual posts of Hyderabad Badminton Association president and Telangana Badminton Association vice-president.
I don’t have any business interests currently. I am a former sportsperson and now a sports administrator and like to promote talent. Not many people know this, but when Saina didn’t have funds to travel abroad for a tournament as a 12-year-old, I gave her a cheque of Rs 25,000. I gave Mithali Raj a Chevrolet car even before she became the Indian women’s cricket team captain.