Other than the high-voltage matches on the field, the IPL was hit by controversies one after the other. From match fixing allegations to on and off field brawls, molestation charges and rave parties, IPL has seen it all.
In an exclusive chat with Zeenews.com’s Swati Chaturvedi on her show Kahiye Janab, BJP MP and former cricketer Kirti Azad talks about IPL, BCCI, the unending controversies and the need to bring a change in the system.
Swati: Who do you think is responsible for the downfall of the game?
Kirti: Obviously, it’s the system. The problem is with the people who are running the system. There is no transparency, no accountability on part of anyone, the responsibilities aren’t fixed and there is no discipline within the game.
Swati: IPL has been rocked by several controversies. From drunken brawls, molestation charges to several notices from the Enforcement Directorate, IPL has had it all. Your views on this.
Kirti: I feel it has become the International Pirates League. The BCCI is operating like the Somali pirates. The pirates hijack any passing ship, demand ransom and no law is able to stop them. Today, the BCCI is acting in a similar way. It seems the BCCI is above the law. Despite so many summons, FEMA violation charges, money laundering cases, over 19 notices pending since last July – as Sports Minister Ajay Maken had said in Parliament - BCCI is in no mood to respond.
Swati: Opposition leader Arun Jaitley is a member of the BCCI; he is the DDCA president and was a member of the IPL disciplinary committee along with Jyotiraditya Scindia that was supposed to take action against Lalit Modi. No action has been taken so far. Be it Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was also your teammate or Anurag Thakur, currently joint secretary of the BCCI, everyone is keeping a guarded silence on the matter.
Kriti: This is something that you need to ask them. How am I answerable for their actions? I am not spokesperson for them or the party. I have no issues with individuals; my fight is against the system.
Swati: Don’t you find it absurd that when it comes to the `Indian Paisa League`, most of our ministers prefer keeping mum?
Kriti: Rajiv Shukla, Farooq Abdullah, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Vilasrao Deshmukh, no one is talking about the irregularities and this is what I want to know. After all why is no one concerned? The law is same for everyone, then why is the BCCI not responding to the notices, especially when three of the ministers from the ruling party are members of the governing body.
Swati: Be it IPL or BCCI`s attitude, don`t you think it’s like making a joke out of the game.
Kirti: There is no system. Let me give you an example. In 1981, the DDCA office was raided by the CBI. Officers from the Registrar of Societies regularly visited the association to probe irregularities. Companies registered under the Companies Act were investigated by the respective officers. But this was before the politicians entered the system. From the time the political class has stepped into the game, discipline has gone completely haywire; there is no transparency and there are so many loopholes in the entire system that one can’t even imagine. The problem is these people themselves have so many skeletons in their closet that they cannot pinpoint others who are at fault.
I am not against any individual, but I am against the system. I do not have any problem with the IPL, but I do oppose the entire drama going around it.
Swati: Don’t you think Sports Minister Ajay Maken has been put in a spot. He is not getting any support from the opposition in his efforts to make the BCCI accountable for irregularities; the entire House is backing the IPL, then what can he do?
Kirti: The Leader of Opposition (Arun Jaitely) is not speaking on behalf of the BJP; he is speaking as a member of the BCCI. Take action against those who are accountable. Be it the ruling party or the opposition, one should not mess with the game.
Swati:Should IPL be banned to save cricket?
Kirti:No, no, I am not against any format of the game.
Swati: IPL is eating up cricket from within like termite, then why not ban it?
Kirti: No. There is no problem with the quality of cricket being played on the field. The people running the system should be banned; they are the ones who should be thrown out. A temple will always be a scared place; it’s the corrupt priest sitting inside who pollutes the atmosphere. Why ban the game? Ban the people who are responsible.
Swati: You had made a statement that the downward spiral of IPL began with the slap-gate incident, when Harbhajan slapped Sreesanth. Do you still stand by the comment?
Kirti: Your channel, Zee News had broadcast an episode, wherein it showed how the incident had affected the masses. Kids started hitting each other with bats; three people were killed in a brawl, then how can you say it’s not impacting the human psyche? If a slap-gate incident can lead to such incidents, then imagine the extent to which the other controversies must be affecting the common man.
Swati: Yes, it does.
Kirti: So give exemplary punishment to players indulging in such activities, ban the wrongdoers, why demean the game.
Swati: Why are you the only one speaking against IPL? Why aren’t ex-players, who donned the Indian colours, coming out against the IPL?
Kirti: The only regret I have is that I am strong, but I belong to the section that cannot speak up. But that doesn’t dither me. I am the son of a freedom fighter. I don`t care even if no one speaks up; I’ll stand for what’s right, even if I am alone.
Swati: Ex-cricketers are getting so much money. Despite that when so much is happening within the game, why are they not speaking up?
Kirti: Can greed for money ever die out? When there is so much greed and lust, how can I say anything about that? I can only try and bring awareness about the issue. The fact that I went on to fast on the issue itself makes me feel happy. No matter that it was for just three hours, it did bring in enough media attention and people are discussing it.
Swati: Our cricketers are not ready to play matches for the country, but every one is ready to be a part of the IPL. Why?
Kirti: IPL franchises are giving the cricketers enough money and are demanding results. They don’t care about the quality of the game, they just have made slaves out of the players.
Swati: But then till IPL exists players would be tied to the format because of money.
Kirti: Clean up the system. The format doesn’t have problem the people within it are the main culprits. Government needs to take tough action and ask the system to respond to the notices. I myself have written to Finance Minister Pranab Mukerjee asking about the notices served to the BCCI in the last one year. If the people responsible are not responding then take stringent action against them.
Adaptation: Liji Varghese