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Rajneeti, London and IPL

By Sanjay Jha

The moment you land back in India, even before you have crossed the immigration counters, you will inevitably hear some intense animated chatter about Indian cricket from fellow passengers. Occasionally, I even apprehend a fist-fight emerging out of those passionate acrimonious exchanges. Last night, one young man was exceedingly agitated about India being knocked out of the tri-series in the Zimbabwe tour. He looked like an inflammatory can of petrol. I prudently enough allowed him free access to the place ahead of me in the queue. Royalty demands reverence, you know.

A fortnight earlier I had woken up in London, my first morning of a long-planned and eagerly awaited summer break, to see the picturesque Kensington gardens, its quaint charming interminable stretch interspersed by well-arranged trees and immaculately trimmed rose bushes. And of course, an impenetrable silence. My coveted moments of blissful tranquility was to be, however, very transitory.

As I opened the sports section of the Daily Telegraph, a familiar smug countenance stared back at me, as if with a deliberate sadistic design. It was our good ole peripatetic IPL Commissioner currently in “suspended” animation giving one of his characteristic bombastic interviews.

Elsewhere, the BCCI had callously if not altogether contemptuously dropped plans of sending an Indian team to the Asian games. And of course, a certain Mr Aniruddha Deshpande, a real-estate builder from Pune had become the latest albatross round the neck of former BCCI chief and Union Minister Sharad Pawar.

No matter how hard you try to escape desi cricket and its inimitable, fashionable faux pas, it has a knack of surfacing both with mischievous delight and with exasperating regularity. It is like a fait accompli. But I still successfully resisted my urge to do a column as I soaked in the unpredictable English summer.

As I now rummage through the evidently cataclysmic revelation about Mr Pawar’s financial stakes in a failed bid for the Pune franchise, I am compelled to reproduce a section from my just published book 11-Triumphs, Trials and Turbulence Indian cricket 2003-10, which will tell you as to why I am surprised as to how we all seem so remarkably stunned and hugely dismayed by the dingy disclosures. The writing was always on the wall, only we chose to treat it like an incomprehensible alien dialect.

So here goes and I quote:

“India has 600000 villages and even today over 70% of our billion population lives in rural areas combating drought, poverty, money-lender’s avarice, large disguised unemployment and perpetual indebtedness. Farmer suicides is a brutal reality of our country. But no media outlet has seriously debated why should India’s Agriculture Minister defocus from a compelling national priority by taking honorary charge of a cricket body? Why ? Isn’t it ridiculous that instead of resuscitating a dilapidated BJP senior party leader Arun Jaitley holds on to his DDCA position even as a mercurial Laloo Yadav joins the fray. What is the mesmerizing magnetic appeal of cricket administration for such veteran public servants? And frankly, how can one alter the complete BCCI structure to enable fresh talented recruits, transparent management, professional expertise, and an accountable institution to emerge ? I think the cricket loving public of India deserves a lot more respect.”

The early monsoon showers have thankfully arrived, but for Indian cricket, as always the heat is on.

See you soon!

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