It’s shocking but true. India’s most successful cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not eligible to vote or contest elections in his home state’s cricket association.
The Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA), which brags about Dhoni’s contribution to Indian cricket, has made him only an honorary member – someone who can’t participate in association’s decision-making.
JSCA member Suresh Kumar, an ardent fan of the cricket star, expressed unhappiness over Dhoni not being given the right to vote or contest elections.
“If anybody in India deserves a place in the JSCA on the basis of contribution to the game, it is Dhoni,” said Kumar.
Interestingly, bureaucrats, lawyers, businessmen and even bodyguards of the elite in Ranchi have been appointed as permanent members in the state’s cricket association.
Sunil Singh, a former member of the JSCA, said that a few influential members are trying to bring in friends and relatives as proxies to continue their dominance.
“Jharkhand Ranji players like Pradeep Khanna and Adil Hussain have not been allowed to be a part of the JSCA, while businessmen and prominent personalities who have no knowledge of the game are enjoying the membership,” said Singh.
The JSCA, however, claimed that the debate is unwarranted since Dhoni is still playing for the country.
“Honorary membership is a mark of respect. What he (Dhoni) has done for Indian cricket cannot be measured. I don’t understand why there is hullabaloo over his honorary membership,” said Amitabh Choudhary, the JSCA president and acting secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
“It will be an honour for us to have Dhoni as a permanent member,” Choudhary added.
Dhoni is the only India captain to have won three ICC trophies. He is the brand ambassador of Jharkhand’s maiden global investors’ summit, scheduled on February 16 and 17 in Ranchi. Dhoni was also approached by the government to promote Jharkhand tourism. He owns Ranchi’s Hockey India League franchise Ranchi Rays.
Dhoni’s childhood friend Chittu, however, said such minor things should not make a difference to a sportsperson of his stature.
“He has been nominated for Padma Vibhushan. Why should a membership in cricket association bother him?” said Chittu, whose character was also included in the Dhoni’s biopic.