Can Dalmiya cleanse the rot in Indian cricket?
The selection of Jagmohan Dalmiya as the interim head of the BCCI - to clean up the sordid spot-fixing and betting taint in Indian cricket - is quite surprising.
There was not even a slightest of hint that the 73-year-old businessman from Kolkata, who during his tenure as BCCI chief had changed the face and fate of the game through his excellent marketing skills, would ever make a comeback in the apex cricket body of the country.
It appears that the former ICC chief has cobbled up new equations to land the top BCCI job after N Srinivasan was advised to ‘step aside’ till a probe into the IPL spot-fixing scandal, involving his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan and several others, is completed.
For Dalmiya, who had slipped into oblivion post his unceremonious expulsion from the BCCI nearly six-and-half years back, the comeback provides him yet another opportunity to control India’s richest sports body.
Interestingly, the seasoned sport administrator does not see his elevation as the ‘interim head’ of the BCCI as his personal victory and has made it clear that the task at hand - cleansing the rot in cricket - would be his top priority. However, the most pertinent question at the moment is:- Can Dalmiya walk the talk?
Whether Dalmiya will be able to cleanse the muck surrounding cricket and in turn restore the credibility of the game is something that millions of cricket lovers in India are waiting to see with bated breath?
His elevation to the top post also points to one important fact that the BCCI - the world’s richest cricket body - is a cozy club where there are no political divisions. If it’s not so then why senior BJP leader and BCCI vice president Arun Jaitley and Congressman and IPL Commissioner Rajiv Shukla have been silent so far and evaded questions on Srinivasan’s resignation.
Remember the 2G scam and the Railgate scandal that rocked the Manmohan Singh government recently and led to the unceremonious exit of two senior UPA ministers mainly due to a relentless campaign by the main opposition party, the BJP.
However, in the IPL spot-fixing and betting case, the main opposition party has remained evasive so far probably because one of its very senior leaders heads the Delhi Cricket Association (DDCA) and is an office bearer in the BCCI.
It is shocking that after being allegedly gagged by the BCCI the legends of the game and all important stake holders in the BCCI and its affiliate state bodies have by and large remained mum on the issue.
No one really seemed to be concerned over the eroding credibility of the sport. A three-member inquiry committee might have been set up to probe the matter and clear the match-fixing and betting taint but there seems to be a match-fixing at every levels of the game.
It is evident from the BCCI Emergent Working Committee meeting held in Chennai where a compromise formula was evolved under which former chief Jagmohan Dalmiya was brought back as head of a three-member "interim arrangement" to run the Board and ‘Srini’, as Srinivasan is popularly known, was asked to step aside.
All this is also suggestive of a cover-up by powerful politicians, who vehemently oppose the policies and ideologies of their rival parties in public but are hand in gloves in controlling the cash-rich cricket body.
Although, Dalmiya has bounced back as the interim head of the BCCI after a six years hiatus, it is ironical that the man who was once accused of embezzlement by the BCCI will now manage the day-to-day affairs of the Indian cricket board, and that too when the Indian cricket requires urgent clean-up.
Not much should be expected from Dalmiya, who has been given the job to correct all that is wrong with the Indian cricket by those who secured a deal with ‘Srini’ to send a clear signal that the new formula will work.
Though without powers, Srini still holds his position, but questions remain if he is really marginalised or will the all-powerful BCCI chief continue to pull the strings from behind the scenes.
The three-member inquiry panel itself is now mired in controversy. With the outgoing secretary Sanjay Jagdale refusing to withdraw his resignation and be part of the inquiry panel, his replacement will have to be found. If the insiders are to be believed then ‘Srini’ too does not want his cooling-off period to last longer than a month. The two judges meant to conduct the probe are also not sure of when they can get started.
With Jagdale opting out from the three-man inquiry commission, one of the other members of the panel Justice T Jayaram Chouta has said the committee cannot probe after Jagdale`s resignation. Clearly, the terms of reference have to be determined by the BCCI again and the board may have to reconstitute the inquiry committee.
For Dalmiya - the comeback man- the next few weeks would be crucial and his reputation as the ‘Master of real-politik’ and a ‘global cricket administrator’ will be put to test. With Jagdale and Shirke refusing to return to their positions as secretary and treasurer, Dalmiya will be forced to find new lieutenants and show that he can function independently without being Srini`s proxy.
Indian cricket is surely passing through one of its most difficult phase with the credibility of the game reaching an all time low and the faith of fans shattered. The fixing scandal, betting allegations, the vast network bookies allegedly having links with the D-company, easy money, the glamour and gullible players have together tarnished the spirit of the game and threaten the USD 3 billion annual IPL carnival.
Cricket is a religion in our country, but unfortunately hijacked by some greedy men. The poison is so deeply rooted that possibly only God can save Indian Cricket now.