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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014
Clash of interest: Board should put its foot down
First Published: 23:42 IST(23/4/2010)
Last Updated: 09:45 IST(24/4/2010)

What does one write about a crisis that one had foreseen? Ever since the IPL was launched three years ago and accepted by the masses as a brand, which enhanced India’s prestige in the globalised world, the voices of dissent were largely ignored or even told to shut up.

The unfortunate truth is that we all tend to react in extremes and rarely weigh all the pros and cons before either condemning or praising anything. Till a month back, IPL was India’s pride and Modi god. Today, the product is completely tainted and Modi is being vilified as a monster who can do nothing right. The defenders of IPL, shocked to the core by the scandalous, though still unproven revelations, say the brand is so good that it will survive. The critics, mushrooming all of a sudden, feel that the end of this “farcical entertainment” is imminent.

The media, one of the beneficiaries of the IPL revenue generation, is now displaying self-righteous indignation, forgetting that they too played a major role in promoting those who “tainted” this product.

The clamour to cleanse cricket and the “corrupt” Board of Control for Cricket in India, is reaching a frenzied pitch. It is a betrayal, which deserves nothing less than a “death” sentence, though no one is sure who committed the actual crime. Is it the politician-business nexus which is the prime culprit or crony capitalism which led to this embarrassing dénouement to a fairly-tale beginning?

Or is it one Mr Lalit Modi, aided and abetted by the ignorance of his cronies in the Governing Council and the trusting BCCI officials, who has led us to doom?

Since we have so much faith in corporate governance —despite the international economic crisis being a prime example of its crooked ways — we are willing to pardon them and some of us are even suggesting that brand IPL be handed over to them.

Maybe N. Srinivasan, whose India Cements owns the Chennai IPL team, should now discharge the dual role of the IPL commissioner and that of being the Board secretary. Don’t think I am being sarcastic. Unless the majority in the BCCI close ranks, this could well become a possibility, as it helps the corporates to take control of the Board after Modi’s exit, something which they obviously want to do, so that cricket as a property is used to fill their own coffers.

Next week will see the focus completely on the Board and its president Shashank Manohar. He seems to have the spine for a fight and this scandal has made the Board aware that unless they act decisively and swiftly, their very existence will get obliterated.

The effete Board has always adopted an ostrich-like attitude whenever threatened by a major crisis, but this time around their very survival is at stake. Despite all its faults, it is a lesser evil and the only positive way forward for them is to first cleanse their own house.

To show their positive intent, the first thing that Manohar should do is to restore the amended clause in the Board’s constitution which barred a member from being part of any group which has business dealings with it.

Not only has Modi to go, even Srinivasan should be told to choose between being a franchisee or a Board member.

If it does so, the Board will be making a positive statement of its intent that it is willing to make a fresh beginning where conflict of interest will not be tolerated. It should also stop behaving like a corporate body whose sole aim is to make profits. And the least it could do to gain the faith of the public is to willingly subject its finances to the scrutiny of a regulator.


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