There are 30 units in the Indian cricket Board and almost all of them have different constitutions. Experts feel this is the root cause of a lot of issues in Indian cricket. Mainly, it has allowed manipulation by powerful personalities to stay in power in their units.
The bigger players in cricket administration use a similar ploy to retain power in BCCI.
It is learnt that of the many suggestions the Supreme Court-appointed RM Lodha Committee is expected to make to reform BCCI’s administration and bring in transparency and accountability, the game-changer could be restricting the tenure of officials to two terms.
In one stroke it can curb the officials’ lust for power. There have been instances of one individual or family being in power for decades. It has led to the manipulation of voters’ list in many state units and the tampering of clauses in the BCCI constitution.
Expectedly, the most powerful post in Indian cricket, that of the BCCI president, has also been studied. The Lodha panel is expected to recommend the scrapping of zonal rotation and suggest an open house election. Many good points advised in the government’s Sports Bill for federations are likely to be advocated for the BCCI. Age restriction could be one of them. The modus operandi of officials hanging on to power is having proxy voters. “A two-term restriction will take care of all these ills,” said an expert on cricket administration.
In such units, but for the top officials, no one knows who the voters are or what the membership process is. According to the expert, voting members should be stakeholders actively involved in the game, like cricket clubs, schools and colleges. In Rajasthan, one family controlled cricket for decades through individual voters, till a state amendment was made to abolish the system. The matter is in court.
In BCCI’s vote bank politics, accountability is the casualty. Annually, the Board distributes, on an average `25-30 crore to its units. But it doesn’t check how the money is spent. There’s silence even when corruption cases are highlighted, to preserve its vote bank.
A multi-crore scam happened in the Jammu and Kashmir unit, accounts of the Assam body have been seized and there are cases against some former officials in Kerala.
“It (judiciary’s intervention) is something we have brought upon ourselves,” lamented a Board member. “All the rules were in place to ensure transparency and accountability, but we chose not to implement them in the name of autonomy.”
Some Board members also agree that correction was in order. “To be fair, some measures were needed in the BCCI set-up. To make sweeping changes would be uncalled for though,” said a member.
“We had the rule in place to take action against (ex-Chennai IPL team official) Gurunath Meiyappan for his offence, but we chose to take on the judiciary. The Lodha Committee’s punishment was based on implementing the rule in the BCCI’s constitution. In case of conflict of interest too, they only corrected the wrongful amendment made to the constitution to favour an office-bearer.”