Michael Ferreira column: Thumbs up to Lodha committee report
The long-awaited Justice Lodha Committee report has really set the cat among the pigeons. It has been received by a thumbs up by true lovers of the game for the manner it has delved into the dark corners of the BCCI cricket administration and exposed it to the harsh light of the real world where bonafide questions asked by millions of fans have to be answered and not imperiously brushed away.
RM Lodha addresses the media after tabling the committee's report in Supreme Court on Monday. Pic/PTI
As one of those fans who has had considerable experience of administration though in a totally different sport, the questions that often trembled on my lips remained unexpressed only because I realised the sheer hopelessness of getting satisfactory answers.
There are some broad areas which I personally found infuriating — the cozy clique culture where some individuals took root in positions of power and feasted on the considerable perks of office both at the State and BCCI level, the glaring conflict of interest situations in which N Srinivasan and no less than the Indian captain MS Dhoni were in, with nobody brave enough to challenge them, the voting structure both at the State and BCCI level, where those outside the "proxy" circus had zero chance of getting elected (in this connection it is worthwhile remembering that Bishan Singh Bedi got only four votes in the DDCA elections as against hundreds cast in favour of cricket nobodies) and the paranoid resistance to avoid coming under the RTI scanner. There are other areas of course, but space constraints preclude my commenting on them.
The Lodha Committee has done a signal service by recommending a limited tenure of three years for office bearers, with a maximum of three terms regardless of the post AND with a cooling off period after each term. This will surely have a knock-on effect at the State level so that the days of certain individuals being 30 years in office will be at an end.
As regards conflict of interest, which gathered steam with the introduction of the IPL, strict norms have been laid down to ensure that there is no direct or indirect conflict in the functioning of the BCCI and IPL franchisees. I cannot help observing that the conflict of interest in which Srinivasan, India Cements, Dhoni and the latter's management company were involved in was nothing short of scandalous. The pity of it was that no one could — or would — dare to pose the obvious awkward questions.
The One State, One Association and One Vote which seems eminently sensible to lay persons has caused all round consternation, as it rocks the very foundation of the cozy voting pattern. I, and I daresay many others like me, would like to ask a simple question. Why should Maharashtra and Gujarat have three State Associations? The chances of talented players from other less privileged states representing their states and coming to the Indian team — the legitimate dream of any cricketer — are considerably less than in Maharashtra or Gujarat whose players have three bites at the cherry. There may well be historical reasons for this unfair situation, but I submit that an anomaly like this must be corrected in this day and age.
As for RTI, I remember quite some time ago, Rajiv Shukla asking why the BCCI should come under the scanner. "We are an autonomous body, we receive no aid from the Govt" and other such piffle flowed from his outraged lips. Hello! What does it cost the State Govt to provide the necessary security for every cricket match played in a given city? What about the extensive lands made available to the BCCI at concessional rates, facilities that other Associations would love to have but do not?
One has to concede that the current administration under Shashank Manohar is doing excellent work in cleaning up some of the mess. One hopes that the recommendations of the Lodha Committee, to the extent feasible or appropriate, will be accepted.