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BCCI verdict: The mother of all cover-ups

BCCI Working Committee meeting

That the probe panel appointed by the BCCI gave a clean chit to President N Srinivasan’s India Cements and Rajasthan Royals’ Raj Kundra comes as no surprise © PTI

By Sarang Bhalerao

Truckloads of evidence indicating treachery, betting, fraud and insider complicity in the Indian Premier League (IPL) surfaced when the national media launched a sustained effort to unearth the skeletons in the much-maligned league. It was evident to the rest of the world, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) liked us to believe that there is something collectively wrong with the eyes and the ears of the world outside of it.

Welcome to the BCCI! This is a world where President N Srinivasan can do no wrong — and to hell with how the world perceives.

Given the past record and the intent of the BCCI against mounting evidence against it and the rising public ire, there were not too many who were optimistic about the inquiry committee hand-picked by the BCCI to indict any of the accused. That the probe panel gave everybody a clean chit thus came as no surprise.

The two-member commission that inquired the spot-fixing and betting allegations preserved the axiom that ‘Srinivasan is always right.’ Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team ‘enthusiast’ Gurunath Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra were given a clean chit. Hang on, didn’t Kundra confess to betting on the results of the games?

The Bombay High Court called the BCCI probe illegal. Srinivasan reacted to the post-verdict uproar along expected lines. Why such a “big issue” was made out of this, he wondered. Either the entire country is full of idiots, or the word “issue” has a different meaning in Srinivasan’s dictionary. The court has asked for fresh investigation. In the reply affidavit, the BCCI and Srinivasan termed the petition filed by Cricket Association of Bihar as “motivated and vested with personal interest.”

Let us assume for argument’s sake that the BCCI (the clean-chit providers) is clean. Why then did Ajay Shirke, Sanjay Jagdale and Rajeev Shukla resign? Jagdale himself was unaware that he was part of a probe committee that BCCI had set up to investigate IPL 2013 spot-fixing controversy.

Make no mistake: one has not heard the last in the biggest controversy ever to rage Indian cricket. The Sports Ministry, which has a troubled relationship with the BCCI, was emphatic that it did not give much credence to the verdict and is awaiting the probe outcome of the police. The Mumbai Police on its part did not send anybody from its investigating team to appear before the private probe panel of the BCCI because it was answerable only to the court. Clearly, the BCCI probe did not have legal sanctity.

For the moment, the likes of Meiyappan and Kundra may have heaved a sigh of relief, but it’s only momentary. The heat will be felt soon.

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)

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