Television

A-Priority: Pawar needs to look into India cricket rights mess

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This  is the season of upheaval. Winds of change have been sweeping the political firmament (in Bihar, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh), with the aftershocks cutting across party lines. And on another playing arena, in the politics- ridden Board of Cricket Control in India, the tremors have been no less intense, with interested parties furiously working the mobile phones and tallying the implications of board supremo Jagmohan Dalmiya's loss to the political heavyweight from Maharashtra Sharad Pawar.

To the winner goes the spoils and to the loser the priceless quotes. It was precious to hear Dalmiya expressing dismay over the role played by the Supreme court-appointed observer TS Krishnamurthy during the BCCI elections.



Conveniently ignoring the fact that his candidate was trounced by 20 to 11, he carped, "One of our genuine voters was asked to sit out while a complete stranger who had nothing to do with cricket was allowed to vote."

The implication: That one vote MIGHT have influenced outcome of the elections. We're talking what will count as among the biggest (if not the biggest) victory margin in the BCCI's almost 76-year history and Dalmiya is splitting hairs about one vote. Just goes to show just how high the stakes were in what has been a bitter, unscrupulous

battle for control of the richest prize in international cricket - the Indian cricket board.

Dalmiya had another grouse that he chose to air. "If you want to involve politicians in cricket affairs, then it's better to nationalise BCCI," he bemoaned. Ignoring of course the fact that his own candidate Ranbir Singh Mahendra is a Congress politician.

Carping aside, the election outcome spells an end to the reign of Dalmiya who has held several cricketing posts in India and globally, including the top chair of the International Cricket Council.

As for the new man on the throne Pawar, he has a host of problems to address. The foremost being the telecast rights issue. An issue directly linked to the cricket rights imbroglio is the endless litigation the BCCI has been confronting these past few years. If Pawar can get the board out of the vicious cycle, that will be seen as a huge achievement on his part.

To do that the new group at the helm would perforce have to introduce transparency and clear rules of engagement into the India cricket rights bidding process. Pawar has begun his innings by making all the right noises. He has promised to give top most priority to bring about transparency and harmony in the functioning of BCCI and adopting a professional approach in running the organisation.

The moot point is, can the Maharashtra strongman walk the talk on this promise? Going by past precedent, that might well turn out to be a pipe dream.

There is a real fear that the only real change we will see in the way cricket is administered in this country is that a new set of powerbrokers get to lord over the spoils of the money minting engine that is cricket in India. That would be a real tragedy.

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