IPL SPOT FIXING SAGA: INDIAN CRICKET’S “WATERGATE” MOMENT !

Cricketer Sreesanth’s use of towels to spot fix during the Indian Premier League season 6 (I8PL 6) led to the biggest scandal that rocked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as well as the IPL. Its flames engulfed Sreesanth and eventually the BCCI too. Finally, it was left to the the Supreme Court of India (SC) to resurrect the game of cricket in India. Ranbir Kapoor knows that a towel can make a career but now, BCCI President N Srinivasan’s and Sreesanth both know that it can mar careers too.

Spot fixing should have never surprised us Indians as we have been throwing hankies to reserve seats in buses and local trains, yet the IPL spot fixing incident became a major controversy and opened a Pandora’s Box for many others.

Gurunath Meiyappan, son in law of N Srinivasan and Team Principal of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) was arrested for betting and so was Raj Kundra, co-owner of the Rajasthan Royals (RR). BCCI appointed an enquiry committee but its ability to conduct a fair probe was always suspect till such time Srinivasan continued to don his twin hats as BCCI President and co-owner at CSK. Expectedly, retired judges Chowta and Subramaniam found nothing against anyone! The findings were challenged by the “unrecognized” Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) in the the Bombay High Court which annulled the enquiry findings. BCCI contested this in the SC but the latter disagreed and instead instituted its own enquiry – the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee.

And this was the turning point.

Mudgal Committee indicted Meiyappan and Kundra for betting and revealed involvement of some players too whose names were withheld. It was critical of IPL CEO, Sundar Raman for frequently communicating with a bookie. And suggested that Srinivasan be further investigated for his role in the entire matter ranging from fixing to attempted cover up. In light of the new facts the SC empowered the same committee to further investigate the matter.

The final Mudgal Committee Report was submitted in November 2014 and confirmed its findings against Meiyappan, Kundra and Sunder Raman. Meiyappan who was earlier termed as a mere “cricket enthusiast” (for enthusiastically sharing information with bookies !!!) by India cements to insulate CSK from possible termination from the IPL was confirmed to be a team official of the CSK. Srinivasan was exonerated of betting and fixing charges but not of attempted “cover up”. Some names were again withheld. Indian Captain MS Dhoni was speculatively dragged in as the mysterious Individual No 2 in the report, whom Individual No 1 (Meiyappan) frequently met to discuss team strategy of CSK and later passed the same details to betting syndicates.

A previous Amul ad on the Mudgal Committee shows a caricature depicting Justice Mudgal and the Amul Girl (as a lawyer) conferring while a player in whites is crying and holding his head in shame, which probably represents the game of cricket.

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The Tag Line , “Muh Khol Mudgal”, translates to “open your mouth” and in the light of the controversy exhorts the committee to come out in the open with all its findings. The Punch Line, subtly hints at the importance of the report as also of Amul Butter.

To take matters further, Srinivasan clearly had a conflict of interest while being BCCI President and took refuge under the BCCI’s amended rule 6.2.4 which allowed administrators running the game to have commercial interests in it as well. BCCI subsequently defended this clause unabashedly in the SC. The crude attempts to alter the status of Meiyappan to “enthusiast” and the alleged role of Dhoni and Srinivasan to support this fallacious claim exposed the entrenched interests. BCCI was also shown to be incapable and unwilling to introduce internal censure and probity and shamefully, contested the powers of the court to constitute an independent enquiry. Most glaringly, BCCI claimed immunity from the courts on the premise that it was a private society and not a public body hence its governing rules were not under the law of the land!

N Srinivasan was exposed as a megalomaniac intent on protecting his interests. Repulsively, Srinivasan wanted to investigate CSK, Meiyappan and others as BCCI President itself when he had such obvious conflict of interest. He fought tooth and nail to prove that he had none and with each assertion exposed himself further.

In spite of the SC’s suggestion, Srinivasan refused to step down as BCCI President to allow for a fair probe. This disgusting scenario presented the bookies with “windfall gains” as they were now betting on Srinivasan’s “would he, wont he” until the SC forced him out. It seems Srinivasan had imbibed the properties of the product being sold by his company India Cements. Luckily it doesn’t sell adhesives like Araldite or Fevicol in addition to the cement!!!

The AGM of the BCCI to elect new office bearers was also postponed by the SC beyond the present term which ended in September 2014, as it felt that the findings of the Mudgal Committee needed to be taken to their logical conclusion. Nauseatingly, Srinivasan still sought reinstatement as BCCI President, much after his official term had already expired. BCCI insisted that it will constitute its own “ethics commission” to implement remedial measures against those found indicted! This was but a vacuous claim which found no favour with SC. To accentuate the competing interests in the India’s cricket administration set up, ex IPL czar Lalit Modi admitted financing the “unrecognized” CAB (all cricket enthusiasts) in its fight against the BCCI and Srinivasan.

Consequent to the filing of the final report, marathon hearings were conducted in the SC during November / December 2014 in which the issue of conflict of interest haunted Srinivasan.Finally, in its January 2015 verdict, the SC endorsed the Mudgal Committees findings against Meiyappan, Kundra and Sunder Rajan. It found CSK and RR guilty of misconduct on the basis of the actions of its officials and owners. It exonerated Srinivasan of “cover up” charges but only for lack of evidence. And most importantly ruled that he had a conflict of interest and struck down the pernicious and contentious clause 6.2.4 of the BCCI. It also barred individuals with commercial interest in cricket from holding a position in the BCCI. And directed that if Srinivasan wanted to contest elections he would have to give up his stake in CSK.

The SC also set up a separate panel under retired CJI, RS Lodha to introduce transparency and accountability in the functioning of the BCCI to help it to gain “institutional integrity”. It will formulate rules to streamline issues of conflict of interest, to stipulate guidelines for the conduct of elections and for any other measure deemed fit for the functioning of the BCCI. It shall also finalise the punishment for the guilty in the entire IPL spot fixing fiasco.The recommendations of the panel shall be binding on the BCCI.

By this the SC has settled the insidious claim that BCCI wasn’t under the jurisdiction of the courts for once and for all. It’s shameful that it fell upon the SC to clean up the BCCI’s mess and to restore the public’s faith in the game. Hopefully this hiding will transform the moral landscape of the hitherto fore opaque and unscrupulous functioning of the BCCI.

This Amul ad profiles the post SC verdict scenario facing N Srinivasan. A caricature depicting him,replete with his trademark red teeka,  is weighing his options with a white flanelled cricketer representing Indian Cricket ,probably Virat Kohli and a yellow flannelled cricketer representing CSK,probably MS Dhoni, forming two sides of a balance.The Amul girl is missing from this piece.

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The Tag Line... Board? Cement? Chennai? India?  ..with initial capitals in red is a play on the Hobson’s choice imposed on Srinivasan regarding contesting elections to the BCCI.He will have to choose and choose he must.

The Punch Line Chairman of Butters endorses the Amul product line and is a veiled hint at the President’s job at stake in the BCCI.

This strip is rightly about N Srinivasan, as eventually it was he who stood between the BCCI and efforts to restore faith and probity in the game.

The verdict of the SC has triggered the fall of the most powerful BCCI President ever, just like it happened for Richard Nixon in the Watergate Scandal, and even that started with a cover up of sorts which was never proven! Like Watergate, it is proven that no one is above the law. Power could neither save President Nixon nor Srinivasan. And lastly, akin to Watergate, sports administrators will now value judicious conduct and avoid being brazen and arrogant

But what a paradox that all the trouble was taken to investigate betting in cricket, a game which commences with betting itself – the toss of the coin.

And btw you can make a career without a towel too. Ask Sunny Leone!

28th February 15;N Srinivasan has tendered unconditional apology to the SC for presiding over the working committee meet of the BCCI in spite of the apex court order of 22 Jan 15 ,specifically barring him from doing so.Srinivasan has expressed regret by saying that he misunderstood the order and “went by its letter and not spirit”.

Accepting the apology the SC allowed Srinivasan to attend the AGM meeting of the BCCI on 2nd Mar 15 and cast the vote as the representative of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association  (TNCA) for the election of the BCCI President.Had Srinivasan not apologised he would have lost stake in the crucial elections.Though barred from any administrative appointment in the BCCI he has substantial interests in BCCI and the IPL and would like to have retain de facto influence over the cash rich cricket body.

2nd March 15; Jagmohan Dalmiya made a remarkable comeback as the BCCI President,ten years after he was banished from the organisation over embezzlement charges.He had sensed an opportunity when Srinivasan was barred from contesting by the SC and went on to successfully lobby for himself as the consensus candidate of all factions including the Sharad Pawar and the Srinivasan group.

This speaks volumes about Dalmiya’s propensity for manoeuvre as also the lure of the post as all factions now have managed to protect their interests and secure their slice of the pie by having a common candidate .

Dalmiya’s comeback is remarkable as he was.once a pariah and today the same organisation has elected him unopposed.This also sends signals about the fact that the satraps in the BCCI have no intention of letting their grip loosen over its affairs as also that they will try every  trick in the trade to protect and perpetuate their interests.Election of a 74 year old corruption tainted well entrenched man doesn’t bode well for the future of cricket administration especially when the BCCI considers itself above the law of the land.

Power…money…politics…

It’s in this backdrop that the Justice Lodha commission has to suggest measures for reforms in  the BCCI.And the work of this committee now becomes ever more crucial.

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6 thoughts on “IPL SPOT FIXING SAGA: INDIAN CRICKET’S “WATERGATE” MOMENT !”

  1. I think these scams are one of such major bugs in the society and what we need to focus is the very cause of these coterie which lead to create scums like bookies…..only way to look forward is to have an efficient judiciary capable of delivering the justice in quick time frame and with utmost urgency…

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    1. The point about the coterie is an interesting take on the issue.In time the members tend to perpetuate power and wealth in the most unscrupulous manner.

      The courts are a way out but then it’s internal censure and the ability of an organisation to find faults within itself is what’s called for.

      Like

  2. Like all your posts…thoroughly researched and a gripping flow in the story telling right till the end. Hope the verdict will clean and clear the system. However, knowing the clout Srini has he is likely to once again CEMENT his hold over the BCCI directly or through proxies and the worst scenario would be if the Pawars and Jaitley covertly support Srini boy. This is not in the realm of fantasy…After all we are dealing with politicians and very dirty politics.
    In the Amul advt. .The guy on the left should be Raj Kundra. ..your take?
    Sunny Leone is a baby doll making money without the towel…but Srini and gang stand exposed and their something grotesque in their nakedness.
    super like …keep them coming Anshumam

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    1. Thank you sir.
      Totally agree with you when you say that it won’t be that easy to see the back if Srinivasan,especially when he has his entire body in the BCCI’s multi million dollar pie.
      But he has clearly been cut to size by the SC. And not many others will ever date to indulge in such brazen power play as well as greed.
      The best thing to happen is that now BCCI is well and truly under the law of the land.not that it wasn’t earlier.but now it knows it too !

      Like

  3. Clearly another remarkable piece of work …. filled wth ur observations and putting them forth in a humorous way could have been accomplished only by someone who has dis insightful knowledge..
    Great.. bring them on.. we are always waiting for more. . 🙂

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