Former Indian cricketers on Tuesday supported the sports ministry's move to bring the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and making it function as a National Sports Federation (NSF).
If the National Sports Development Bill, which was tabled in parliament on Tuesday, is passed in its present form is passed, the cricketers will have to abide by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines followed by other sports and the BCCI would be bound to provide information under the RTI. the BCCI has vehemently opposed the bill.
Former India captain Kapil Dev, who led the team to 1983 World Cup win, acknowledged the good work done by the BCCI but said it should work with the government.
"It is a vast issue and we can't talk about it off-hand but in my opinion every organisation should come under a uniform system. At the same time, BCCI is doing well as a private organisation and we should respect that. But at the end of the day, everything should come under the government," Kapil said on the sidelines of a seminar of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) here Tuesday.
Another former captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, now a Congress MP, hoped the bill will improve sports in the country.
"You got to make sure this bill proves to be good for sports. We have a lot of good sportspersons who suffer because of many indifferent things. I really hope this bill is passed," said Azharuddin outside parliament.
Ajay Jadeja, too, praised the world's richest board for its functioning but asserted that no one is above the law.
"BCCI has done a good job in running the sport but nobody is above the law. When a government passes a law, you can't look at one individual or one body. And if they are going to come out with a bill covering sports bodies, I don't see anything wrong in that," said Jadeja.
On BCCI coming under the RTI, Jadeja added: "There is nothing wrong if they fall under the RTI. But you have to leave out key things like players' selection away from public scrutiny."
The government on the other hand is caught in a difficult situation as a few top ministers are also part of the BCCI.
BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla, who is also a minister of state in the union government, said the Indian cricket board cannot be accountable to the government.
"I have not seen the draft Bill. Show me the draft Bill. The Supreme Court's ruling says no organisation can be under the RTI if it does not accept the government grants," Shukla said.
Sport minister Ajay Maken wondered how bringing the BCCI under the RTI Act amounts to controlling it.
"How is bringing a sports body under the RTI tantamount to controlling it, I fail to understand? Just an effort to make it accountable to its fans," Maken tweeted on Tuesday.