What Justice Lodha has done to Indian cricket is akin to what Donald J Trump has done to the Republican Party — blow it up.
To some extent there is much that deserved blowing up — the cronyism, the corruption and the conflict of interest. But a bomb doesn’t have the luxury of blowing up only that which is bad — it blows up the good as well. This is what is called collateral damage.
Most cricket writers have been delighted that Lodha has gone beyond the brief in addressing not just the BCCI but the whole of Indian cricket. This is because it permits some schadenfreude — at the expense of the BCCI.
However, most of these writers are enthusiastic followers of Test cricket. They know very well that the Ranji Trophy, and not the IPL, is the bedrock of Test cricket in India. It creates a foundation for skills in the longer form of the game.
None of them have complained about the expulsion of Mumbai (Bombay). Nor have they broken into a sweat over another nursery of Indian cricket — Baroda. These are the great Ranji-to-Test nurseries of Indian cricket along with Karnataka and Delhi.
So to penalise the errant — the “gambling damaads” and the “ministers with proxy votes” the two nurseries of Indian cricket have been left without a vote. Imagine what would happen if a judge in Britain was to preside over a scandal and suggest the merger of Manchester United and Manchester City into one club. Or the merger of some of the big London clubs — Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs into one London club and instead give premiership clubs to the Isle of Wight and Shetland in the interest of spreading the game. We would think it absurd. It has no connection with the development of the game in Britain. Yet this has been done in India. Stopped the voting rights of Mumbai and Baroda and brought in seven North-East states with one vote each. The contribution of Mumbai to Indian cricket — Merchant, Wadekar, Gavaskar, Tendulkar counts for nothing in the pursuit of the oddball one-state one-vote principle.
Let us look at the post-Lodha scenario. Mumbai and Baroda with no voting rights will be like stateless citizens — always under pressure. East — the zone with the greatest interest in football will have 11 votes. Only one (Bengal) has ever won a Ranji Trophy while the west which has just two votes has won 50 out of 82 Ranjis. Does this seem right?
When you give voting rights to people who don’t play the game what happens? It’s not hard to imagine this scenario. The FIFA, like the IOC, gave voting rights to member countries and ever since then has battled with people paying off apathetic countries for rights; eg, to stage tournaments. What has been created is what we also call a vote-bank into which deposits will have to be made.
Lodha, as long as he was addressing legal issues — corruption, cronyism and conflict of interest — was on the right track. But when he switched from surgeon to system disruptor he has destroyed the two nurseries of Indian cricket and replaced them with passive vote-banks.
The blowing up approach as Trump has discovered is heady. But the people around will have to bear the fall-out.
Bharat Patel is a member of the Marketing Committee of the Baroda Cricket Association. The views expressed are personal