By K.N. Pandita
After nearly two weeks of bizarre drama of accusations and counter accusations, hiding and revealing of hideous facets of IPL, the grand finale has come down with a bang. First there appeared only the tip of the iceberg and gradually, thanks to the unrelenting and to some extent scandal-loving electronic media, a big chunk of the colossus money scam got revealed to the naked eye.
Yes, big money is involved and we have the big fish in the cesspool. One should appreciate the originality of those who conceived the novel idea of laundering black money and evading the income tax. And some of them who are in the fray claim to be nationalists par excellence.
The day one when IPL was formally structured, I heard many sensible observers calling it a death warrant to the high ethos of a fine game called cricket. Recent events have vindicated their fears. The Pakistani cricket players, who were unethically kept out of the IPL, must be highly gleeful on shame and disgrace now dogging the prime actors and stakeholders of IPL.
The first and foremost miss-doers in this scandalous affair are the top cricket players who succumbed to money temptation at the cost of the high culture and grace of a very decent game that has brought laurels to many an outstanding among them. Imagine great Kapil Dev invariably referring to national pride and honour whenever he is interviewed by television crew for comments on some crucial aspects of the game. Imagine the British royalty honoring outstanding players with knighthood. And above all, imagine hundreds of millions of watchers commenting joyously on each stroke, each ball, each catch, each loss and each win. No other game has won popularity of the dimension of sorts which cricket has won. Moreover, for a long period in history, this game became a cementing force between the Commonwealth countries. But now imagine the cesspool of filth and dirt to which the royal game has now been dragged.
There was a remark by an MP during the heated debate on the IPL episode in the parliament saying that cricket was a foreign game and should be discarded and replaced by some national tamasha. I am surprised that the honorable MP forgot that India has one of the strongest and most colourful cricket teams in the world; she won the world cup and established her position as a leading cricket playing country. If we are supposed to shun it because of its foreign origin, then we should shun the entire gamut of modern life style as most of it is foreign in origin. It is a myopic and jingoistic vision to demand its banishment just because it is a game of foreign origin. Our parliamentary democracy is of foreign origin, and our elected representatives have been basking in the warmth of freedom of speech brought by this foreign-related political system.
Our ace cricket players should have declined to join IPL and thus maintained the grace and dignity of this highly skilful game. Alas, they were driven blind by monetary allurement as if they are starving of big monies. They must now be realizing to what depths the bidders made them sink. Auctioned like cabbage and carrots, they remained blind to their personal achievements, fame and popularity. Indeed, today they are far below in the popularity graph in the eyes of habitual cricket watchers and commentators. Of all the people, it is they who knew the illegitimate sources from which money came.
Finger will also be raised toward the IT department. Why did they keep sleeping over the entire affair for such a long time? When the bids for buying the players went in crores, where were they at that time? Why did not the long arm of law of the land reach them in time? Why did its officials swing into action only when the cat was out of bag? Where they privy to the sources of big money and deliberately closed their eyes? Now that the media hype had unraveled the darkest aspects of the dirty game of big money laundering, they woke up and are running frantically after the stakeholders to create an impression that they care for national interests. This question needs to be probed into and we hope that the government will handle the probing exercise inclusively.
Though belated, yet the government’s action should be welcomed even if it had to be taken under pressure from opposition. The opposition is the watchdog and it has performed its duty effectively. Its stand is vindicated. It has rightly been said that Shashi Tharoor the shunted out junior minister in MEA is not the focus. He has paid and rightly for trying to be over smart. The focus is on IPL, the great money laundering and washing mafia. Fat capitalists have come together to jointly find the way how the government can be swindled, how tax can be evaded and how black money amassed in foreign banks can be converted into white money. In doing so they have brazenly cheated upon the unsuspecting a billion strong Indian nation that believed it was being entertained for the money it gladly paid. How their money is used clandestinely to validate black money is betrayal of trust. This is a serious accusation and should be dealt with according to the law of the land.
The government has set up a parliamentary committee to enquire into the entire affair. That is the right thing to do. The opposition should not claim credit for removing a junior minister and forcing the government open Pandora’s Box. All that the opposition has done is that it precipitated quick and decisive action in a scandalous affair that had started tarnishing many profiles. So the opposition did its duty by way of harkening the government to an important issue. The government should be given full credit for handling the matter with alacrity and fairness. But all said and done, there is a strong point in opposition demanding banning the IPL. All methods and means that violate the law of the land and cause damage to the national exchequer have to be plugged once for all. It is the duty of the government to restore the noble game of cricket to its pristine purity and dignity. Let India not be accused of de-standardizing it. In fact the government should take some action under rules and impose a penalty fine equal to the amount of the bid for each Indian player in IPL contest. It is also important that BCCI is purged of officials with self-aggrandizement and their place is filled by younger cricketers both retired and not retired, so that this prestigious sports organization is not politicized and does not become a den of maladies. Persons with political background should not be allowed to become office bearers or members of BCCI. Besides that one third of its office bearers and members should be females with known interest in sports and cultural activities.