Familial tale of retaining power
We the people of India have the innate genius of circumventing any stringent laws, conventions, traditions and constitutional obligations to suit our personal interests. Combined with this phenomenal capacity to find loopholes in the best of laws for our self-promotion, is the complete absence of any moral compass that civilized societies adhere to. We are a nation of opportunists, where an individual is more important than the collective and a relative more worthy of favours than a deserving person on the street.
If you think this is a very harsh assessment worthy of condemnation then you don’t know your cricket. To be more accurate, India’s cricket establishment and their stealthy ways to manipulate power and then brazen it out as if no wrong has been committed.
When Gurunath Meiyappan, the son-in-law of the then BCCI president N Srinivasan, who controlled the IPL team Chennai Super Kings, was accused of betting on his team, he was promptly absolved of any wrongdoing by a committee appointed by his father-in-law. This cover-up was exposed by the judiciary and Gurunath was not only punished, but a chain of events got unleashed that eventually led to the Justice RM Lodha led reforms. Two years down the line, the board is now in the process of implementing these constitutional reforms, that many believed would usher in a new dawn in India’s sports governance.
What we see instead is a shameful turn of events, where various state bodies are flouting all the conditions set by the Lodha panel that bar people from holding on to their posts without any checks and balances. Nepotism is being given a new meaning and life by our administrators. Tamil Nadu, the home state of Srinivasan, leads the way. Gurunath’s wife and the former board president’s daughter Rupa has been elected president of the state body. Another stalwart of the board officialdom, Niranjan Shah’s son Jaydev is now the Saurashtra body president. Not to be left behind is Anurag Thakur’s state Himachal Pradesh. Anurag, who just about managed to escape contempt in the Supreme Court when the board was resisting implementation of the Lodha reforms, has installed his brother Arun as the state association president.
This list of close relatives of those having lost power and barred by the law to contest being installed as office-bearers, will become more and more exhaustive and shred the spirit and intentions behind the reform.
As if to mock at the failed attempt to infuse transparency and ethics into cricket administration, a cricketer who was banned for life for his involvement in match-fixing is now the president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association. Mohammad Azharuddin was a great cricketer, a supremely gifted batsman, but a terribly flawed person and in 2000, he along with Ajay Sharma, was banned for life from associating with any cricketing activity, as the CBI found them guilty of fixing.
Since legally they had done nothing wrong, the courts finally absolved them, but does that mean they were not guilty at all? At a time when more and more suspicion, if not concrete evidence, is emerging that the infiltration of bookies into the cricketing world may be growing, what signal is being given by resurrecting a “fixer” as an official of the board?
I am convinced that if Justice Lodha would have known that the Supreme Court intervention would lead to this brazen flouting of rules through the backdoor, he would have never undertaken this exercise. Time for him to file a petition in the court, saying: “My Lord, I withdraw these constitutional reforms.” The mirror we the people look into, has too many cracks in it and reflects a disfigured face.