Mudgal report: Don’t blame Srinivasan only, BCCI should face the music too
Now we know for sure. The fig leaf covering N Srinivasan has been removed. He is the target of an investigation, under the supervision of India’s Supreme Court no less. This is no small thing.
As Firstpost sports editor Ashish Magotra has detailed, the playbook for Srinivasan and the BCCI has been to point out the (suspended) board president was never the subject of an investigation. Not only was that untrue, the Supreme Court made it clear Srinivasan is guilty of some sort of impropriety or misdemeanour.
The ground, then, has shifted considerably and the tremors must have been heard within the BCCI’s corridors of power. Former board president Shashank Manohar, a Srinivasan advocate-turned-opponent, has fired the first salvo, saying the BCCI is at its lowest ebb today because of the ambitions of one man.
But that is an attempt to rewrite history. The BCCI is at this point because of the BCCI. Every single person on the board, not just Srinivasan, bares some responsibility for the sorry state of the game in India.While Srinivasan has wielded tremendous power as president, and has an unusually strong grip on the BCCI, it does not absolve the others of their choices. Grown men (they are all men) make up the membership of the BCCI’s all-powerful Working Committee. If the board wished to take action against Srinivasan, it could have, as it did in the case of Lalit Modi. But its members have grown fat and contented under Srinivasan, who has practically minted money for them.
That’s why there has been absolutely no attempt by the board, not even for show, to conduct its own inquiry or to question Srinivasan. Even when the Supreme Court asked Srinivasan to step aside, the board did not consider the need to conduct its own probe.
Rebellions are not led by those whose nests have been well feathered.
Shivlal Yadav, the Supreme Court appointed interim president, even went so far as to tell Srinivasan: “I pray to God that all the bad period that we are only reading about in the media will be over as soon as possible and you will take over from me.”
That’s the level of commitment to transparency and accountability the BCCI practices. It tells you all you need to know about the culture of the organisation.
It is all so different from how the BCCI treats the players. It wasted no time banning Sreesanth and Ankit Chavan for life even though the police were still conducting its investigation. Players have always been sacrificed at the altar of the board’s ambitions.
The BCCI isn’t going to change. Even after the Supreme Court indicated that Srinivasan was guilty of some sort of misconduct, the BCCI’s reaction was willing only to postpone its elections for at another month. Worse still, the members don’t get why violating their own by-laws for one man should come across as problematic.
These choices are all on the members, not Srinivasan. By choosing to support and encourage one-man rule, the board has abrogated its responsibility to govern the game of cricket in India. Nothing stopped any of the associations opposed to Srinivasan – be it Pune or Punjab or Baroda – from challenging his attempted cover-up of Gurunath Meiyappan’s involvement in CSK. It took a non-BCCI member in the form of the Cricket Association of Bihar to do so.
That’s why in this case removing the head of the snake is not going to kill it. The problem is institutional, not one of personality. Srinivasan isn’t man apart from the BCCI. He is the most finely distilled version of it.