So on TV just now, I heard Sharad Pawar — who recently announced his candidacy for the post of Mumbai Cricket Association president — say that “this situation would not have happened if I had been BCCI president”.
This whole mess began when the BCCI ignored the obvious conflicts inherent in N Srinivasan owning a franchise while being an office bearer of the BCCI, right? This was done despite the provisions of the constitution, and the constitution was then post-facto amended to make things kosher.
So here you go: A letter on the BCCI letter-head, dated January 5, 2008, addressed to N Srinivasan and signed by then BCCI President Sharad Pawar, reads in full thus:
I am in receipt of your letter regarding participation of India Cements Limited in tender process for the Franchise of Indian Premier League.
I have examined the bye-laws and the relevant regulations of the BCCI and I have consulted several members of the BCCI, including office bearers of the Board, and it is our considered opinion that you being a shareholder, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of the Company will not prevent or preclude the India Cements Limited from participating in the tender.
The participation of India Cements Limited will not mean you personally have any direct or indirect commercial interest. I therefore find no impediment in India Cements participating in the bidding process.
Therefore, the India Cements Limited may participate in the Tender if they so desire.
Sd/- Sharad Pawar
In how many ways is this egregious?
Firstly, at the time this letter was written, the board by-laws specifically prohibited any office bearer from having any direct or indirect commercial interest in the game. If Pawar “examined” the bye-laws, he could have hardly missed that. (This, and the fact that the bye-laws were subsequently amended, is the subject of an ongoing court case).
Secondly, how can anyone suggest that owning a team does not mean Srinivasan has direct or indirect commercial interest in the game?
Sorry, Mr Pawar — given your record, given that you gave the official imprimatur to Srinivasan’s very obvious, very overt, conflict of interest does not inspire much faith in your statement that had you been in charge, cricket would have been clean.
You were. Cricket wasn’t.
PS: Oh this is rich. MCA president Ravi Sawant has the weirdest defense of Srini ever mounted.
Basically, his point is this: When Srini bought a franchise it was illegal, but no one said anything. So why ask him to resign now?
Sawant said that the issue of conflict of interest had always been there and if the BCCI had allowed it to happen earlier, raising the issue now was not correct.
“The rules were already in place. First time when buying a franchise, all the rules were applicable,” he said. “That time, he was not the BCCI president. He has gone from treasurer to secretary to president. So someone should have voiced their concerns, because these rules were made to prevent certain things to happen. You are now saying those rules were there and there is a conflict of interest and he should resign. To my mind, we should retrospectively think about it, why didn’t we object to his buying a franchise.”
“If you are supporting the decision of him buying a team, now to make an issue out of it is not correct. All these people speaking against him now are holding positions in the board, and they have worked with him. How can you raise an issue now?”
Seriously, you guys in the BCCI: Are your mouths not wired to your brains, like is the case with the rest of us?