No politics, please

A Twitter message that opened the Pandora’s Box as far as the Indian Premier League is concerned and led to the resignation of  Shashi Tharoor as Union minister, has incrementally exposed the seamy side of the IPL, with fresh revelations, charges and insinuations casting a shadow on the popular event. The government has ordered an investigation into its affairs and it is bound to be directed at the actions of the all-powerful IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, his relatives and others close to him who are thought to have made illegal gains. There is much that has to be gone into – the nature of the bidding process, sources of funds and their channels, charges of money laundering, award of various rights connected with the IPL matches and even suspicions about betting. The government has promised a fair investigation covering all aspects and appropriate action as per law, if any wrong-doing is found.

After having tasted blood with the resignation of Tharoor, the opposition has upped the ante and become more aggressive. It has got an opportunity to put the government in the dock and is trying to extract more gains. That has naturally led to absurd demands like a ban on the IPL, and suggestions like the need to set up a joint parliamentary committee. Even the nationalisation of the IPL was sought, as if that is a remedy. IPL may have suffered from opaque dealings behind the closed doors. But blatant politicisation of the entire IPL enterprise can only do greater damage. The opposition should desist from blaming the government for all the ills of the IPL and the government should curb the temptation to extract political revenge for the embarrassment it has suffered.

The IPL has come into adverse attention because of the big money involved in it. But it has also provided enjoyment and entertainment to millions of people. It has become an unprecedented and iconic success story by mixing entertainment with business. The ills that have been exposed are a result of that success, especially because its business model is new to India. The effort, through the current public debate and the investigations that are on, should be to eliminate those ills and make the IPL a healthy venture. There should be transparency and accountability in IPL’s working and errant conduct should be penalised. But it will be unwise to throw the baby out with the bath water.

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