The Talented Mr Jaitley

In ‘Breaking News’ just now, Arun Jaitley tells NDTV, among a lot of other stuff that would win top honors at any stand-up competition, that “The administration of cricket in India has been good”.

Mr Jaitley, of course, has been administering cricket in the national capital since around the time Sachin Tendulkar made his debut (or so it seems). And doing such a bang up job of it that as far back as 2006, Virender Sehwag, other senior team mates, and even the Delhi coach were talking of running away.

Three years later, this happened.

Oh hell, why go on? Here is a post that chronicles just how good the administration of cricket has been on his watch.

Then there is of course his sterling fight against maladministration within the BCCI. Like the time his then boss Sharad Pawar allowed N Srinivasan to buy a franchise, and Jaitley raised the flag of protest. Oh he didn’t? My bad.

Or like the time, six months after that initial act, when the rules of the BCCI were rewritten to make Srinivasan’s purchase of a franchise legal. Jaitley — among other things, a lawyer — must have pointed out that such an act was both unconstitutional and illegal, yes? He did not? Oh, ouch, my bad again.

No, seriously, why would he raise his voice? By staying silent, he paved the way for yet another constitutional amendment (Seriously, the BCCI constitution, in the original, must now resemble a patchwork quilt, with amendments written on post its and stuck anywhere there is some space handy). This one, in September 2012, quietly did away with the rule that the seat of president of the BCCI should be given to the four zones in turn.

By rights, once South in the presence of Srinivasan had his turn (including a second term, also facilitated by another amendment at the same time), it would have been the turn of East Zone. But Jaitley needed a quid for the many quos he had conferred on Srinivasan — and this was it, an amendment that paved the way for his becoming BCCI boss in either 2013 or, if Srinivasan won a second term, at least in 2014.

In passing, here is a scary thought: A Sehwag could once — no, twice — threaten to run away from Delhi rather than suffer Jaitley’s mismanagement. If Jaitley becomes BCCI boss, just where the heck is there to run to? Pakistan?

The carrot-and-stick society

Kunal Pradhan and GS Vivek produce a longform narrative on the BCCI. Sample graf:

Srinivasan, the often underestimated vice-chairman and managing director of the Rs.4,050-crore India Cements, has harnessed support by finessing the modus operandi of largesse and patronage into an art form over his seven-year association with BCCI. His greatest achievement-presiding over a conspiracy of silence in which everyone is complicit, from state associations to players to commentators to ex-cricketers. His give-give regime has drawn power by increasing the wages of Team India players from Rs.2.5 lakh to Rs.7 lakh per Test match as BCCI president-elect in 2010. By handing out a one-time bonus payment to former domestic and international cricketers ranging from Rs.25 lakh to Rs.1.5 crore in 2012. By offering central commentary contracts worth Rs.3.6 crore per year each to top opinion-makers Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri. And by pleasing a number of fence-sitting state associations by dropping the irregularity and embezzlement charges levelled in 2006 against their potential rallying point, former president Dalmiya.

It is this tyranny of favours, not too different from the one fashioned by Dalmiya when he was at the helm in various capacities between 1990 and 2005, that forced Jaitley and Shukla to keep mum in the days leading up to the IPL final on May 26. In some way, every top member of BCCI has been touched by Srinivasan’s bounty. His former boss Pawar suggested on May 29 that Srinivasan was “not serious about dealing with wrongdoings”. But the controversial amendment in clause 6.2.4 of the BCCI Constitution in September 2008 allowing office-bearers to own teams had been initiated by a letter from then-president Pawar The amendment let Srinivasan bid for IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK). On January 5, 2008, Pawar had written to Srinivasan saying he found “no impediment in India Cements participating in the bidding”. Another change in the constitution on September 15, 2012 had paved the way for Jaitley, head of Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), to become president in 2014, by removing the rotation system that demanded the next board chief should come from the east zone. Yet another change, in Rule 15 (vi), which allowed former presidents to seek re-election, paved the way not just for Srinivasan but also for Pawar, I.S. Bindra, Dalmiya and Shashank Manohar.

One minor caveat: The “tyranny of favors” that the writers speak of is neither new, nor exclusive to Srinivasan — it is in fact standard operating procedure for the board, and has been ever since Jagmohan Dalmiya raised it to an art form. Successive presidents, Sharad Pawar included, merely continued the practice. And they have little choice — the structure of the BCCI and the constitutional need for annual elections (or a semblance thereof) means that the incumbent and his intended successor are forced to spend the year making nice with those associations whose votes are key.

Interesting piece overall. Read.