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?

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21 thoughts on “Srinivasan should go — but why?

  1. Hmm. that old chestnut from Prem… SMG and SRT are two people on his personal hit list, he never misses an opportunity to take potshots at them.

    Firstly, why should one expect SRT to raise a voice against corruption? It is our typical Indian mentality, always expect some knight in shining armour to solve our problems for us, ourselves, we will do nothing. There is a saying in Marathi : There should be a Shivaj born alwaysi, but with the next door neighbour, so I dont have to suffer the consequences.. Has anyone asked SRT if he has signed up for Prem’s crusade?

    Let us turn this whole thing around: we all know the problems of paid media in India. One only has to look at Radia tapes to understand the depths to which the Englsh speaking and to some extent, the vernacular media has sunk. How many voices has Prem Panicker himself has raised against this given that he is a senior journalist now? How many times has he asked searching questions about the likes of Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai etc? Forget that, Prem works for Yahoo, how many times has he spoken about the utter mismanagement of Yahoo, once a top portal but now in the leagues of also rans? Has he raised his voice against his CEO Myer who seems to have nary a clue?

    Its easy to expect others to get into a fight, but one should be honest to oneselves at the very least…

    And yes, I am posting as an anonymous coward, but at least I dont go about asking others to do my fighting for them.

    • Tendulkar’s response/silence is nothing new, the only public stance he has taken is urging people to take bucket showers. talk about using your stature to drive nasty issues that afflict our country & sports…

  2. It is easy for outside folks who have nothing to lose to ask players to take a stand against Srinivasan. But as you have said, Srinivasan is just 1 person in the system. When he is gone, an equally or more corrupt person will occupy his position.
    I am not sure if Sachin can just speak up and all system will be changed.. Remember that politicians know how to bide their time and once all the media attention is gone, things will go back to normal. Then who will take care of people who spoke against the BCCI.. They have long memory and are vindictive.. Someone like Kapil Dev could not do much with ICL by going against BCCI and he has suffered for it.. What did the media and the folks that are complaining now do to support him, or bring about a change?
    Also, cricket administration is just part of the overall Indian system and democracy.. It is silly to expect BCCI will be a paragon of virtue when most politicians are trying to loot as much as possible from the country. It seems silly to expect that “good” folks will come to Cricket and clean it up.. If such a thing is possible, I would rather wish for Indian and state governments get cleaned up first.
    I am actually amazed that some “poor people” actually make it big in Cricket compared to many other professions.

  3. On the Tendulkar silence, I often wonder if he is the Chauncey Gardner of cricket, but without Chauncey’s words?!! Or are his opinions so weird that the PR machinery has worked on overdrive to keep them out of the public sphere?

  4. The cleansing would have to begin at the state associations . No one is talking about the vigilance cases pending against some of the state associations . Kerala Cricket Association , Sreesanth’s home association , has a vigilance case pending for misappropriation of funds. Since they are one of the sure votes for Sreenivasan no action is taken.

  5. Prem, as ever, a very telling post – thanks again, and do keep it up. In all seriousness though, what can be done? Srinivasan might be forced out but another Srinivasan will come in and the whole cycle will repeat itself! The fans will not stop watching the game, be it “live” or over radio/TV/internet. Some legends will continue to be paid mouthpieces of the BCCI. But, couldn’t folks like Kumble, Ganguly, Srinath, Vishwanath, VVS, Dravid, etc., get together and try to come up with a viable alternative? This is a great opportunity to effect change at the BCCI and I’m sure most of the names above (and others) realize the same. Do you know if they are even considering it? Us fans have no realistic chance of forcing any kind of change; the PIL filed several years ago to make the BCCI a transparent and accountable body is a good example of this. Great intentions running head-first into a rock wall named BCCI!

  6. And Dravid? Ganguly? Kumble? Aren’t some of them involved in State associations?
    Y’know what I find funniest… we laugh at how these scandals and politics are cyclical in nature… when has the board ever been corruption free? But we, like the hysterical media, react exactly the same way… we participate in this cycle always bemoaning the state of events, wishing the politicians and corrupt businessmen would leave and men of honor and integrity would take the helm… as if we have no role in that sphere… its like animal poaching… when the buying stops, the killing will too.

  7. I am shattered by this piece in diverse ways. My outburst may not help the cause but I must appreciate your research and heartfelt devotion toward the game. I am just amazed. Thank you Mr. Prem Panicker — Take a bow, sir!

  8. Its really high time that these greedy politicians are shown the door and ex-cricketers are appointed in BCCI panel. We don’t want politicians controlling cricket in india….

  9. For all his stupendous achievements on the cricket field, Sachin Tendulkar is pussilanimous when it comes to showing the way. He will cry in the dressing room when India would lose a close test match against Pakistan, but wont cry when the game itself is bleeding. He will be a Rajya Sabha member, but fail to perform his duties as team member.

  10. when has Tendulkar ever taken a stance? Oh yes. he did only once before when he spoke about Greg Chappell on TV. And that too after a lot of bloodshed. After the world cup debacle. And that too after fully confirming that there are no senior board members who want Greg to stay. He knew that he was not ruffling any feathers by speaking against him.

    Tendulkar is not going to talk and any expectations from us is a waste.

    He is, as any normal person would be, more interested in ensuring that he continues to earn from the game be it now or post-retirement.

  11. It is exactly the same silence which bystanders display when a crime is committed in broad daylight . Everyone is waiting for somebody else to act first. But if even one of them acts and speaks out , then the rest will surely follow. You are right – people like Sachin are expected to take the lead in such situations. Pity that their on-field heroics fizzles out off the field.

  12. Hi Prem,

    Indian cricket is right now a swimming in a STP and worse, the guys who come to clean have landed from another one. Who will do the cleaning job then?

    On the player’s voice specifically, since when have any of the senior players collectively raised their voice on matters that are important to Indian Cricket? Yes, some of them may have spoken at an individual level on the what’s best for Indian cricket in interviews and columns etc, but collectively, I don’t know of them having spoken.

    While on one hand it’s really unfortunate that they haven’t, on the other it just goes to show the vice like grip the Board has on how the game is run here. The Board controls just about everything, don’t they – which players are picked (not the Core) with the zonal quota and what not (Depending on which association voted in favor), allocation of Test and ODI venues, finance and accounting, media coverage and what the players should and shouldn’t speak – the list is endless.

    The player’s association (PA) may have been a good platform for all players to voice their views (and this may have been only one of the objectives of a PA). Wasn’t the mere thought of such an association killed by the Board in its nascent stages? It was a clear sign that Board didn’t really give a damn to players’ opinions and views.

    If any of the former players speak up, they’ll surely be burning bridges with some members of BCCI. Who knows how the board will retaliate?

    So, unless the board consists of team of people who have the right vision, have the willingness to accept mistakes and be transparent, I really don’t see how the administrative part of the game will change.

  13. Arrogance is mistaken for confident leadership in our jingoistic nation. We are not content with the entertainment in the IPL, we want drama surrounding its very foundation. We want meta-entertainment, so morality goes out the window.

    The only way to clean now is to destroy.

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