Between Modi, Manohar and Srinivasan, there are a lot of questions that call for urgent answers. Jayaditya Gupta lists the most compelling — and underlines why “meeting after 10 days” is not the way to go.
There are far too many questions surrounding the auction of the two franchises. Why was the auction deferred on the day it was supposed to have been held? The explanation for the deferment given at the time was that the financial clauses were too stringent. Was that not an issue in the days and weeks before that? The new bids were opened on March 21; the agreement with the Kochi consortium was signed on the night of April 10 – 20 days later. Why the delay? Correspondence between Shashank Manohar and Modi suggests the issue of ownership had been discussed – and questions raised – long before the shareholding pattern was revealed on Sunday afternoon. If there were doubts over the credibility of the successful bidders, could that not have been sorted out before the bids were opened? Could due diligence on the bidders not have been done? I am no legal or financial wiz, but it does strike me as common sense to do a basic fact-check before allowing someone to sit at your table and share in a very lucrative pie.
For too long Indian cricket has been living in an unreal world. Unreal at various levels – the entire notion of the Indian board being a trust (and so saving millions of dollars in taxes), instead of a corporate entity sitting on a billion-dollar empire, or the notion of the IPL being a “domestic league”. It is time to get real, to play the part of one of the world’s leading sports tournaments, among the most innovative and certainly among the richest. Forget the money, there are too many livelihoods riding on the IPL.
What should the BCCI do now? That’s the tricky question. The Indian board doesn’t have the credibility to ensure a thorough investigation of the Kochi case from within – that job could, given the money involved, be handed over to criminal investigators, as the opposition party, the BJP has suggested – but it could set the ball rolling by ensuring the nine other franchises declare their ownership structure. And making public its own accounts.
The regime of Manohar and Srinivasan, which has ruled over the Indian board for the past two years, has been likened to the Kremlin for the secrecy with which it operates. Well, now is the time for some perestroika and some glasnost.