The gloves are off in the Aam Aadmi Party versus Bharatiya Janata Party contest. While Delhi settles into what promises to be a very cold winter (going by Met predictions), the political climate reaches boiling point.
Having been in and out of the capital over the past fortnight for the Pro Wrestling League, I’ve seen some excellent fights based on superb technique, skill and temperament. But this no-holds-barred bout has upstaged everything else.
Even the daily furore launched by the Congress (occasionally supported by other parties) that has put the winter session of Parliament in limbo has looked pedestrian in comparison.
The BJP and AAP have been shadow boxing (occasionally landing some soft punches too) ever since the latter came into power with a stunning majority in the last assembly elections.
After the CBI raid on chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s secretariat, it has precipitated into a bloody scrap with many of the blows deliberately aimed below the belt by both parties.
From a procedural perspective, there is nothing to prevent the CBI from moving against the principal secretary of a chief minister. Also, to expect a stadium to be recast in Rs 24 crore, even if that was the originally declared outlay, seems completely misplaced when you consider how much more other such projects have cost.
However, the BJP’s stand that the Delhi and District Cricket Association controversy was in the public domain for a long time is facile. Such argument would mitigate the quest for reaching the truth and punishing the guilty in any case. Mere lapse of time is not a credible defence.
But obviously these issues are only proxies for a more fundamental political confrontation. By drawing finance Arun Jaitley into the ring, as it were, the AAP – which had accused the BJP of masterminding the CBI raid to actually get at Kejriwal – is now openly gunning for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Where this fight is headed is anybody’s guess, but if the rhetoric used by spokespersons of both parties is any indication, I would venture it will not only be protracted, also more bitter.
Where does all this action in Delhi fit into a column on Mumbai?
The DDCA controversy has countrywide ramifications, including Mumbai. While it highlights the fault-lines in cricket administration, this can also be extended to other sectors. The pertinent ones are accounting for money spent on infrastructure, and fudging of age at the junior levels. In cricket, for instance, all state associations receive between Rs25-35 crore per year from the BCCI. This is a substantial amount of money that has as yet been very loosely audited.
Going beyond cricket - and this is true of Mumbai in many instances – sports clubs have been formed by getting land at throwaway prices through political patronage. Infrastructure is then created through round-tripping kickbacks from those given contracts, as has been documented in so many projects.
Where sports is concerned, it is age-fudging that is seriously detrimental in the Indian context, and I can do no better than quote from Rahul Dravid’s Pataudi Lecture delivered earlier this season.
Says Dravid: “…emphasis on short-term results (that) has led to the scourge of overage players in junior matches...
“The truth is that the player who has faked his age might make it at the junior level not necessarily because he is better or more talented, but because he is stronger and bigger. We all know how much of a difference a couple of years can make at that age.
“That incident will have another ripple effect: an honest player deprived of his place by an overage player, is disillusioned. We run the risk of losing him forever.’’ This is an endemic problem, not just in the DDCA, not just in Indian cricket, but in every sport in India. In Mumbai’s case, the cricket is better organized than in Delhi by all accounts, but what of other sports?
If a serious investigation is made, I am certain the results will be startling.