Srinivasan should go — but why?

So it is all down to numbers. Which, in other words, means open bidding for votes, promises of largesse, and which faction can make the more potent promise (or threat) to buy votes.

Just the great Indian democracy in action, and isn’t that such a heartening sight to see? Not.

Meanwhile, the news channels are all about highlighting those voices that say Srinivasan should go. And yes, he should.

Srinivasan should go because of the illicit manner in which he acquired a franchise; because of the way he manipulated the IPL to his own personal ends and institutionalized corruption on a grand scale. Remember how Mumbai Indians complained vociferously that he had ‘fixed’ the previous auction to favor his own team? Remember the complaints about him tampering with the duty roster of umpires, and even the schedule, to benefit his team? Remember the way he manipulated the salary caps so he — and MI — could retain select players while still retaining sufficient money to bid for top talent at the auction?

All of this is fixing; it is corruption on a grand scale. And once you create such an atmosphere of corruption, you open the door for lesser mortals to be tempted. After all, if the Srinivasans of this world can earn in crores, what harm in a Chandila, a Sreesanth, a Chavan earning a few lakh?

I don’t know about prosperity trickling top-down, but corruption certainly does that. And for this, Srinivasan should bear the blame, more than most.

Also, Srinivasan should go for his arrogance, for the sheer contempt he has displayed towards the public, as most recently evidenced by his blatant, repeated lies. “Gurunath Meyappan has nothing to do with CSK… Gurunath Meyappan is just an enthusiast…” Good grief!

But let us not be under the illusion that Srinivasan’s exit signals the end of corruption in Indian cricket. The malaise is way more deep-rooted than that.

Remember that it was Sharad Pawar who facilitated Srinivasan’s ownership of an IPL franchise in the first place, though it was clearly against the rules of the body of which he was then president (And to think today he has the gall to say there would have been no corruption on his watch!)

Pawar wrote to Srinivasan on January 8, 2008, permitting the latter to participate the bidding process. He said he had examined the bye-laws and there was nothing there to prevent Srini from being part of the auction. He was lying — and later, when that lie was brought home, when the relevant bye-laws were aired in the public forum, he got his tame executive committee to rewrite the rule book, and amend the relevant clause (Clause 6.2.4 of the BCCI constitution).

Originally, the clause stated that no member of the board could benefit either directly or indirectly from cricket. The amendment, authored 6 months later, exclude the IPL from the ambit of that provision. This move was so egregious as to evoke scathing comment from Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra, one of the two judges who heard the case filed by former BCCI president AC Muthaiah; Justice Mshra suggested in her opinion that Srinivasan had to chose between being a board member or owning a franchise, but he could not be both, and do both, simultaneously. That case is now before the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Remember also that when the IPL was hit by a series of scandals that cumulatively led to the ouster of Lalit Modi, Pawar was the board president; it all happened on his watch. So when he emerges as the flag-bearer of honesty and probity today, it is a truly jaw-dropping moment.

Remember, too, that the IPL has a commissioner. His name is Rajiv Shukla.

When the IPL was mired in scandal earlier, the then commissioner had to go (and Shukla was one of the first to ask for his ouster). Today, the IPL is mired in scandal again, but Shukla’s role, his responsibility, doesn’t even merit a mention. How come the buck never seems to stop at Shukla’s doorstep? What is he made of, teflon, that nothing seems to stick to him?

There is another point worth keeping in mind. Remember how in his letter, Pawar said that he had discussed Srinivasan’s participation in the auction with fellow board members? Who were those board members? None other than Shukla, Arun Jaitley and gang — all of whom, by Pawar’s own admission, agreed to bend the rules to breaking point and let Srinivasan dip his grubby fingers in the pie.

Isn’t it funny that today, it is the same troika of Pawar, Shukla and Jaitley waxing indignant at Srinivasan’s misdeeds?

All of this is why Srinivasan’s exit — and the way things are shaping now, it is merely a matter of hours, or at most days — will change nothing. The BCCI honchos and their supporters in government will claim that it is a sign of the board getting tough and not respecting personalities or positions; they will trumpet it as a sign of their earnestness to clean up the system.

But it will be no such thing — because those now gunning for Srinivasan are the very ones who enabled all of this in the first place. Cutting Srinivasan out therefore solves nothing, because the rot is within the system, and the rot runs deep.

What the board needs right now is a systemic clean-up; it needs men of probity and unquestioned integrity at the helm — men of character empowered to do whatever it takes to bring credibility back to the game, and restore faith to the fans.

Instead, what we will get is Pawar. And Shukla. And Jaitley.

Somewhere in London, meanwhile, Lalit Kumar Modi is laughing his head off.

PS: There have been many cricket-related disappointments in recent days — but there is nothing more disappointing than the complete, total silence of senior players past and present.

Particularly the stone cold silence of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar — a man with unparalleled goodwill in this country; a man who, if he took a stance on this issue, would have the unqualified support of the fans; a man whose stature is so large that even this cabal of politicians will not be able to go against him.

If a Tendulkar will not use the goodwill he earned from this game for the good of this game, then what use is it? And what is the point of asking lesser mortals to speak out?