Friday, June 19, 2015

STATUTORY WARNING for INDIAN POLITICAL LEAGUE- Cricket as a sport has seen exponentially growth on and off the field in the last 28 years. Gone are the days in 1987 when DD telecast the world cup in the sub-continent. The main sponsor Reliance paid for the matches telecast on the public broadcaster. The Telecast rights business has now made Doordarshan needing the Apex court’s intervention to get India cricket matches live. They have used the "matches of national importance clause" to get any telecast partner to share their feed for India matches. Cricket’s metamorphosis in the telecast rights business was brought about by Jagmohan Dalmiya who knew the potential the game held. He was always a cautious Baniya in opening the doors for commercialisation. He kept it a cozy gentleman’s club. They rubbed shoulders with the best while running the game without the checks and balances from the government. The game of cricket was blossoming and the 75th Annual General meeting in Kolkata changed the dynamics of the game. The cricket board was divided into 2 camps. Jagmohan Dalmiya lost the battle in his own den to another shrewd politician Sharad Pawar. Though Jaggu Dada did not lose the elections personally as Ranbir Singh Mahendra the incumbent president lose the battle. The congress loyalist who switched sides before the elections left Jaggu Dada shocked as he was not prepared for a Brutus moment. The Congress loyalist paid a price as after switching sides did not get any BCCI member to second his case for the vice president’s post. This was after the Jaggu camp was beaten fair and square. Lalit Modi and IS Bindra brought the administrative expertise to help Sharad Pawar while another strong Maharashra strongman Shashank Manohar came with the legal acumen. The Beedi giant Praful Patel played the back room manager who saw Dalmiya’s fall in the elections. Dalmiya was out and the Sharad Pawar camp tried their best to pack the Kolkata Czar from the CAB elections in the following year. The police commissioner of Kolkata Prasun Mukherjee was a stiff challenge but Jaggu Dada withstood the pressure to win the election by a narrow margin. In the subsequent years to follow Jaggu left the chair and Prasun regained the chair without a challenge. However, there are no permanent enemies and friends in the sporting business. Meanwhile the private TV channel eyeing the telecast pie did not bag the rights and lost the race in the bidding process. The loss of the telecast rights was difficult to fathom and a parallel league ICL was formed. The mediocre success to the league and the need to get a BCCI operated league got the Pawar camp to work round the clock to offset the players rush for Lights-Camera-Cricket. The birth of the IPL and the change in the conflict of interest clause helped N Srinivasan get an IPL team Chennai even though he held the role of a treasurer in the BCCI. Unfortunately, the role models in politics were becoming extinct and politicians thrive of popularity. The game of cricket had a mass following and getting involved in an association also provides easy access to people. Sports helped to connect and this was the lifeline for every state politician to park themselves when they lost their place in the state and the centre. The success was just like instant noodles and the only contribution the politicians had to do with cricket was to think of appointing people to keep the masses happy while the agenda of self promotion was going places. Lalit Modi made the politicians understand how the IPL could help boast their business interests. The politicians got the cover the cozy business club needed to flourish by using the age old Chanakya formula of “saam, daam, dand and bhed”. The thought does brush every politician with the same brush but there were few who brought their expertise to help the game grow. SK Wankhede, NKP Salve and Madhavrao Scindia were few names that meant good for the game. They loved the game, respected the cricketers and used their acumen to help the game scale newer heights. The Cricketainment show of IPL and the success that followed showed Jagmohan Dalmiya running the cricketing business in BCCI and ICC as amateurish. However, the shrewd Baniya realised the dangers of the game’s popularity, glamour and financial clout very early. The Multimillion dollar WSG deal with Mark Mascherenas and the potential of the game was in black and white before Dalmiya. He took a cautious approach to keep the profile of the deals good to run the house without attracting the preying eyes of the politicians. The Czar from Collate wanted to sharks of the political world to stay away from rubbing shoulders with BCCI on a regular basis. The change in Kolkata in 2007 has left Jaggu fighting to save his own house and the success of the IPL saw the BCCI coffers overflow. Many politicians got the taste of getting involved with cricket. The sagging political careers of few politicians helped them use cricket to bask in the achievements of the sporting icons. Sports helped them or made them believe that it would help them be visible to their voters. A politician will give you free passes for the game and loads of other access to the international or an IPL game and that helped the “Quid-pro-quo” game. Some cricketers became politicians after tasting success on the field. Chetan Chauhan, Chetan Sharma, Ranjib Biswal and Anurag Thakur are cricketers turned politicians. They continue to work for the growth of the game but have enjoyed the many caps on their head. Politicians can contribute positively but they need to be cautious as their name can be misused by state associations to create camps. This is rampant in every state cricket association elections. The latest fall –out of an Indian Political League has seen many politicians burning their fingers. Who is right and wrong is not a call but it is high time there is a statutory warning for politicians who want to run cricket in India. “Politicians are highly injurious to cricket and should stay away from it.”