They say that cricket, Bollywood and politics are the three national obsessions of India. If a scandal hits any one of these, then the media goes into overdrive.
This year’s IPL spot-fixing scandal is probably the biggest of them all for the simple reason that it covers all three and goes even beyond that. Almost every major industry seems to be involved.
A look at how at least one person is connected from everything right from the BCCI to the underworld …
1. The BCCI official: This is not the first time that a BCCI President finds himself at the centre of a controversy. But now forever N Srinivasan will be equated with “conflict of interest”.
While there was always a conflict of interest between Indian Cements, the BCCI and Chennai Super Kings, the betting scandal was also added to that list thanks to the arrest of his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan.
It is funny that the BCCI reverted to Jagmohan Dalmiya as interim president as he himself was ousted years back for misappropriation of funds. But Dalmiya has since won a court case and made a comeback in style.
2. The ICC official: Asad Rauf is a member of the ICC Elite Umpire Panel. His name got dragged into the whole controversy and the ICC promptly dropped him from the ICC Champions Trophy. That was not all. Further reports emerged of another ICC official warning Meiyappan that he should be careful while betting. If that’s true, then criminal charges should be filed
against that ICC official.
3. The IPL franchisee: It started with Rajasthan Royals when three of their players were caught for spot fixing. The focus soon shifted to CSK’s conflict of interest. Now it’s back on RR as police say that owner Raj Kundra has accepted that he has been betting on his own team.
There is also talk of RR being kicked out of the IPL. We know that cannot happen to CSK as Srinivasan still retains power even though he may have stepped aside.
4. The Team India member: Sreesanth’s involvement lent gravity to the matter. Why would a man who has been part of two World Cup winning finals do such a thing? Then captain MS Dhoni came into the limelight. While the fact that he is Vice President of India Cements is well known, further conflicts of interest vis a vis Rhiti Sports has come to light. Dhoni has never
faced the heat in this manner. He must be quite happy that he is currently blissfully playing cricket in faraway England.
5. The Politician: Everyone knows that a fleet of politicians serve as cricket chiefs. But the current controversy has brought all that into sharp focus. Their inaction, their vested interests, their own conflicts of interests was all discussed and debated threadbare. Of course no action can be taken against any of them.
6. The Bollywood actor: Shahrukh Khan, Juhi Chawla and Preity Zinta have all been comparatively very quiet this year. All the attention from Bollywood has been reserved for Vindu Dara Singh who was arrested and who named many a people in the betting case. After that, Shilpa Shetty’s name has also been dragged in.
7. The Bookie: It is difficult to believe that betting is banned in India. After every scandal, bookies keep coming out of the woodwork and some even appear on TV to explain how the whole process works. This has led to calls by many people to legalize the betting industry in India.
8. The Underworld don: Whenever something goes wrong, it is very easy to blame a don in Dubai since he is faraway and untouchable and hence unverifiable. This time also the police have named the underworld. But things got much more complicated when a report said that Congress secretary and IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla may have met Dawood Ibrahim in Pakistan.
9. The honey trap woman: This was all that was left to be dragged into the whole affair. Reports say that bookies used women to lure and trap and later blackmail the cricketers who had participated in the latest spot fixing affair.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/