oppn parties BCCI: Banking on Public Support?

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BCCI: Banking on Public Support?

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The BCCI is playing a different game now. It defied the SC-appointed Lodha committee and it knew the consequences. You cannot defy the highest court of the land without facing the music. When the BCCI bosses took the decision to disburse funds to state associations in their SGM on October 1, they knew it was not a routine matter and the Lodha committee will retaliate. The committee has done so by instructing BCCI bankers not to disburse payments to state associations. The BCCI sought to project this as a "freeze" on its bank accounts and immediately threatened to cancel the ongoing New Zealand series. But the Lodha committe has clarifed that it only instructed the banks not to disburse funds to state associations as they were not routine payments and went against its diktat. So has the BCCI has now changed track and is hoping that if it cancels international committments, there will be a public outcry or maybe the government will be forced to intervene and the apex court will perhaps relent. If so, the BCCI is wading into troubled waters. The law of the land has to be followed and public outcry cannot determine how the courts will decide matters.

It is clear that all actions of the BCCI were designed to escalate the issue. The Supreme Court is expected to decide on the next course of action on October 6. The BCCI could have waited before taking the decisions that clearly went against the Lodha committee recommendations. The Supreme Court is likely to supersede the Working Committee in its next order. Continued defiance of the court, without meaningful discussions with the Lodha committee, is something which the apex court is not going to condone. Anurag Thakur and company seem to have just a couple of days in office and the situation is of their own making.

At the SGM, the BCCI adopted several technical recommendations of the Lodha committee but chose to ignore the real ones that are designed to convert the body from being a closed club to a modern and transparent sports body accountable to the nation. BCCI top brass is taking the plea that they are not dishonest and have the interests of the game at heart. No one has ever said that the BCCI is dishonest or inefficient. The only grouse is that it functions like a closed club and the top brass, once elected, entrenches itself for long periods by distributing largesse and buying patronage.

The BCCI brass has also said that they could not put a new constitution in place because the state associations did not vote in its favour. If something is ordered by the apex court in the country, the opinion of the constituents of a body does not matter. The state associations just needed to be informed that the apex court has ordered that the constitution be changed and that was that. The development of the game is not even across the country. Several state associations, like Bihar and Rajasthan, have disputes with the body. Several others are not fully recognized and not paid their dues. The game was not taken to the north-east in all these years. Politicians and bureaucrats continue to hold top posts. Conflict of interest abounds. The Lodha committee provided the opportunity to the BCCI to have wide ranging discussions. But the board spurned its overtures and sought legal advice on how to defy the committee.

Now, as the day of reckoning approaches, it needs to be said that the BCCI has played its cards wrongly. It should have discussed the prickly issues with the Lodha committee. It should have put its point of view in a forceful and logical manner, instead of displaying arrogance. It should have tried to convince the apex court that its recommendations were unjustified, if it thought so. But it took a confrontationist stand from day one. Its lawyers chose to digress and kept questioning the authority of the court in subjecting the BCCI to its jurisdiction even though it was a registered society. It refused to understand the considered view of the court that it conducted many operations that were “state” like in nature and hence it was subject to writ jurisdiction of the courts. It even had the temerity to question the impartiality of the chief justice of India.

It seems that the BCCI is now thinking that if matters come to a head, the public will support it and the courts will have to allow it to have its way when there are protests in the country if no cricket is played. But it does not understand that it can be the reverse too. The people of the country saw how the BCCI was manipulated to benefit its top brass during the IPL conflict of interest and insider betting fiasco. They are not going to support a few people with vested interest to cause long term harm to the game. In any case, it is not as if the court cannot appoint an efficient administrative body till the elections to the apex council are held. India will keep all its international commitments even if the court supersedes the current working committee. BCCI’s confrontationist stand has reinforced the view that much is wrong with the functioning of the body. It needs a complete overhaul and the Supreme Court is expected to do the needful on October 6.