So, it’s all hunky-dory with BCCI that has projected itself as the most unified unit filled with goody-goody boys who have a saintly aura about them. The sham of an AGM in Chennai only reflected the quality of persons who attended it to re-elect a man who went to great lengths to cling to power.
If you still believe that Gurunath Meiyappan had nothing to do with Chennai Super Kings, the franchise team owned by India Cements whose boss is Srinivasan, and he was anything but an official, then either you are ignorant or choose to look the other way. The irrefutable fact is that Guru was very much heading the Super Kings team and much more than just an “enthusiast” (what a laughable explanation!) that his father-in-law Srinivasan insisted he was.
You only need to check the archives of Super Kings website that spells out precisely who Guru was vis-a-vis the Chennai franchise team (unless this information too is deleted!). The point is that not just Srinivasan, but the BCCI has collectively failed to enforce discipline and tournament regulations. Had they been followed, it would have led to the expulsion of Super Kings from the IPL.
Instead, we have a situation where Srinivasan gets re-elected and in the process, thumbs his nose at those who rightfully sought his removal as BCCI president. Even more disappointing was that the South associations, notably Karnataka that is headed by iconic cricketers like Kumble and Srinath, virtually prostrated before Srinivasan and in return, won themselves some plum positions within the BCCI.
Former BCCI president Shashank Manohar has dubbed Srinivasan as an “autocrat” who is hanging on to power like there is no tomorrow. However, it was during Manohar’s regime that Srinivasan grew in stature as the secretary.
So, for Manohar to be calling names at Srinivasan after quitting BCCI is akin to hurling paper missiles at his successor. It was not as if Manohar was ignorant of the goings-on within the BCCI, especially in matters pertaining to the IPL. As the president, Manohar had every opportunity to step in to set right matters, which he didn’t or couldn’t.
Much as Srinivasan’s re-election was a foregone conclusion, it was shocking that there was none to oppose him as if it were the Congress party where one family calls the shots and tramples upon all opposition. Prior to the AGM, Srinivasan cleverly feathered a few nests by hosting the members at a two-day holiday jaunt in the sylvan settings of a resort on the scenic East Coast Road on the way to Mahabalipuram. Dined and wined to their heart’s content, the grateful and happy members all but fell over each other to re-elect Srinivasan.
As I had mentioned in my previous column, historically, the BCCI has always projected itself as a unified unit, especially during the election process when every effort is made to make the elections “unanimous”. As in real-life politics, there is considerable horse-trading, compromises and deals struck so as to present a happy picture to the public. It was no different last weekend.
So, we are back at square one with Srinivasan firmly in the saddle with a whip in hand, driving a bunch of willing horses on a path of his choice and woe betide anyone who gets in the way. It is a reflection of the times that we live in where principles and decorum be damned, and what matters most is winning the ultimate prize, in this case, power – absolute power.
Yet, the BCCI remains in the shadow of match-fixing, which I feel is bigger than what has been exposed. In our country, the due process of law is time-consuming and it is anybody’s guess as to when the latest case of match-fixing will be closed, given the grey areas in the laws governing betting.
The fact that the title sponsorship has been given away at a considerably low price, is a clear indication of the sorry state of affairs. Star/ESPN purchased rights for home matches at Rs 2 crores a game as against the previous Rs 3.5 crores. More significantly, there was just one bidder who won the rights at the base price. Yet, the BCCI, living in a bubble, glibly said the drop in rates had nothing to with the image of BCCI which is clean, but attributed the situation to the prevailing market conditions!
Ultimately, the show will go on as is the case now. Perhaps, we will be better off looking at the brighter side of the picture with cricketers earning more, youngsters benefiting with much exposure and of course, the paying public enjoying the game without being unduly perturbed about behind-the-scenes shenanigans.
After all, cricket is far too embedded in the Indian mind and so long as it stays there, the sport will survive regardless of who rules it and how.