There was no doubt in anyone’s mind in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on 18 July last year, imposing reforms on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), that anarchy would rule for a while before order had the chance to emerge. You could predict BCCI’s stonewalling tactics in the vain hope that the Supreme Court would relent and overturn its own verdict.
The Justice RM Lodha Committee had tried for six months and now the Vinod Rai-led Committee of Administrators (CoA) has been at it since 20 January without success. All we have seen is an elected president and secretary being removed for not adhering to court orders; now, the CoA has asked for the ouster of current office-bearers, CK Khanna, Amitabh Choudhary and Anirudh Chaudhary.
It is not surprising that CoA now wants the present BCCI top brass removed for the same reasons as that of Anurag Thakur and Ajay Shirke, who served as president and secretary respectively before their ouster by the Supreme Court — an inability to usher in reforms. The CoA added another charge: that of the present office-bearers showing scant disregard for its directions and flouting them with impunity.
Each of the three office-bearers has written to the CoA denying that they are responsible for the delays. But one reading of the resolution passed by the BCCI Special General Meeting (SGM) in Delhi on 26 July this year will be enough to convince that it never really accepted any of the changes but only listed five points in which it saw practical difficulties.
Besides seeking the sacking of the present set of office-bearers, CoA wants to court to empower it to finalise the text of BCCI’s new constitution, implement the new fund disbursement policy immediately, appoint committees to conduct a forensic audit of each state association, which would also have an administrator appointed by the committee for supervising their electoral rolls.
CoA has sought the exclusive control of its governance, management and administration until the elections are held. However, on the basis of its functioning over six months — and the fact that two members have moved on, including one quite acrimoniously — it is hard to see the CoA having the bandwidth or the vision to find early resolution.
It appears as if CoA ignored the fact that the Supreme Court had entrusted the task of implementing the reforms to the Justice Lodha Committee, author of the reforms, in the first place. The Lodha Committee had tried for a good six months before Supreme Court invested faith in the Vinod Rai-led CoA. A year and more has gone by with no signs of mindset change within BCCI.
In sharing details of the allowances drawn by office-bearers and their staff as part of its status report, CoA wants to drive home the apparent reason for ‘honorary’ BCCI officials to remain glued to their positions of power. It might be a sound tactic to adopt but the CoA itself seemed to have tied itself up in knots by not focusing on the primary task assigned to it by the Supreme Court.
It was always clear to anyone who has observed cricket administration that the CoA would have to employ a bottom-up state associations first approach rather than attempt to reform BCCI with a top-down philosophy. For, if BCCI has to embrace a new constitution, it needs a 75 percent majority and the present dispensation from each state would not let that happen.
And that could happen only if those attending the meeting accept, understand, implement and adhere to the Supreme Court’s order in letter and spirit. Instead of seeking to ensure that the constituents of a BCCI meeting were those who bought into the Supreme Court order, CoA wasted a lot of time in talking to them, even getting ready to represent BCCI’s issues before the court. It was trying a carrot-and-stick policy when it was only assigned the task of implementing the court order.
The CoA has finally arrived at the conclusion that state/member associations of BCCI have no desire to implement the fundamental core of the reforms mandated by the Supreme Court. Curiously, CoA asked state units for details of grievance redressal officers only on 8 June and, more importantly, details of their membership only on at the beginning of August.
It should have asked for a forensic audit of all state associations and member units a long time ago. For the state associations are the key handlers of the Board’s finances and a serious look at whether they have disbursed their monies with diligence and propriety should always have been the first step to cleaning the proverbial Augean Stables.
It is glaring that its CoA’s latest status report sets no deadlines, though there is a reference to BCCI elections in September. It can only be hoped that the Supreme Court sets a firm target date for the whole process, at both the State and BCCI levels, to be complete. For, it will take time to find sets of eligible, experienced, committed and willing officials to run the show in each state.
If the Supreme Court is not inclined to revisit its 18 July, 2016 order and expects BCCI to carry out the changes, it will do well not to nominate any more former cricketers to the CoA. For, the committee needs members with the desire, the time and the capabilities to complete the task efficiently and quickly, without letting the glamourous role come as a distraction.