Cricket in India garners more eyeballs than any other sport. Hence it is more likely to see politicians hogging the limelight and trying to score points over each other with a powerful administrative post. Abhijit Banare looks at the issue with an eye on the MCA elections and what makes Sharad Pawar so popular in the circles.
Politicians battling till their last breath for the top post in a cricket administration is not fresh news any more. Yet what’s interesting is the purpose for which they wish to achieve such a post that is far away from how their own profession functions. On his own website, Arun Jaitley has penned down his thoughts on the same. Below is an excerpt from the same blog.
The test for determining the suitability of a cricket administrator is not the principal profession to which he belongs. The real test is the level of commitment that an individual has to the sport, the extent of understanding of the game that he possesses and his ability to contribute as an administrator of the game. What may not be of concern is the fact that some persons with political background are administering the game. The serious issue is that others with no commitment or interest in the game happen to threaten on the strength of State power.
Going clearly by a politician who has made a good reputation for himself in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) and in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), there are three main points which underlines his thoughts:
a) Commitment b) Understanding c) Ability to contribute to the sport
The Board, in the past has witnessed some of the finest politicians handling the game and have done so efficiently and if you go back to see their contribution, all the above three priorities have been ticked. In fact, the idea of having such an administrative body with politicians itself was to bring resources and stability to a sport which they are good with. However, looking at the personalities from this fraternity involved in the sport in the past few months, one cannot be sure about their commitment. Without enough understanding, even the contribution tank is low.
The latest in this tussle are Gopinath Munde and Sharad Pawar battling out for a powerful Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) top post. While the former claims it’s his dream to serve and improve the infrastructure of the sport [which ironically is far better than other cities], the latter has a plethora of experience with every sparkling post involved in this sport. Understanding the political scenario and where they come from, it is evident that more than serving the game, there seems to be a tussle for scoring a political point by conquering the gold spot of domestic cricket. For Mumbai, political tussle in cricket is not new if we look back to Ajit Wadekar backed by Shiv Sena versus Pawar in the 2001. Prithiviraj Chavan‘s name in the MCA elections showed a glimpse of how clubs are not sunk deep into the political ambit. To be nominated for elections, the candidate needs to be backed by one club at least.
Apart from a powerful position to score brownie political points, the administration comes like a complimentary journey. In their own profession, they are accountable to the people. Some of the better known politicians, have always managed to keep their own fortress clean by winning the seat year after year with Pawar being one of the fine examples. However, in cricket, the accountability isn’t the real concern for them. Winning an election and gaining visibility during cricketing events is. It’s often a basic argument, why former cricketers don’t come forward to take charge. Former India spinner Bishan Singh Bedi, known for his straight talk, put up a convincing answer at a public forum a few weeks ago. Bedi complained how some former cricketers are least willing to stay unified and contribute to the game. He cited an example of a former cricketer who didn’t turn up at the momentous platinum jubilee of Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) just because he was invited with a casual call and not with a formal invitation.
However, in the above context, Pawar has been shrewd enough. During his tenure he has always involved services of former cricketers in developing the game. While he enjoys the power, the NCP leader, at the same time, is sensible enough to allow the game to grow under his name. He manages to get the former players under one roof. Many politicians are unlikely to vouch for such shrewd unison as compared to Pawar. Hence, scoring political points may be one reason, but Pawar surely has an understanding of the three criteria’s mentioned by Jaitley. Hence it won’t be a surprise that the politician is more likely to find his way to a victory.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)