BCCI, where BJP plays family politics

Jay Shah

When the new Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) administration takes charge next week, the overwhelming message will be that the old order is back in place, though the names are new. The BCCI will continue to be under political control, with only a change in the nature of the politics and the personalities who will dominate it. Whoever is in power and is in government at the central or state levels controls the administration of cricket also. Sharad Pawar, who aspired to become prime minister, did not consider it beneath himself to lead the BCCI. Cricket administrators, admittedly like in the case of other sports, have been either politicians or their proxies, or persons with money power. The exceptions have been rare. This will be the case with the new-look BCCI, too, with the BJP dominating and controlling the body. 

Counting out Sourav Ganguly, who will be the president, the entire cast is drawn from politics or from the linked world of other connections. Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s son, whose cricketing or cricket administration credentials are unknown, will be the secretary, and another minister Anurag Thakur’s brother will the treasurer. Controversial former BCCI president N Srinivasan’s daughter will be the new Tamil Nadu Cricket Association president. There are other sons and proxies, too, and when the Committee of Administrators, appointed by the Supreme Court to clean up the stables, demits office next week, the old guard will be there, in new colours. The BCCI has a lot of money at its disposal, unlike the governing bodies of other sports, but that is not its only attraction. Control of the BCCI gives the opportunity to control the most popular game in the country and, through it, gain access to people’s minds. For many months every year, cricket is the dominant public event, with a pan-India appeal, and so the advantages it bestows on its custodians are not difficult to imagine. 

The new dispensation will mean a formal end of the much talked about clean-up efforts and will go against the spirit of the Lodha reforms. It is disingenuous to claim that it is a democratically elected set-up when the positions are all negotiated, when sons, daughters, siblings and dependents people it, and when the ruling party and the government control it. Many hope that Saurav Ganguly will make a positive impact even in such a situation, as he has the right credentials for the job. But there are political shadows that creep up to darken these hopes, and deal or no deal, some doubts will not easily go away. 

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