If three weeks is all it takes for Sourav Ganguly and others in the saddle to come up with a plan to turn BCCI’s new constitution on its head, there is justification in asking what was the fuss concerning Justice Lodha reforms all about.
If four years of labour by the Lodha Committee, Supreme Court and a whole lot of others could be dismissed without even giving it a chance, is it not scorn and disrespect for their efforts?
It is not an argument that Lodha suggestions were foolproof. In fact some of the recommendations were impractical and even hilarious. Like the suggestion that cricket grounds be hired out to tennis and hockey events in a bid to raise money or that there be advertisement-free telecast of cricket matches.
But once the Supreme Court jettisoned some of these impractical recommendations and arrived at its order after listening to prolonged arguments from BCCI officials, state units and other interested parties, it is only fair that the new constitution be tried out before attempting to bury its very essence.
The crux of the matter is that president Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah, joint secretary Jayesh George, all have just a few months to go in office –until around July 2020 -- before they go into a mandatory three-year cooling off period during which they cannot be associated either with their home state unit or with BCCI.
Obviously none of them are thrilled at the prospect of a three-year exile and therefore are keen on changing this rule.
However, it is important for Ganguly and others to realise that the strength of an organisation rests in its process and the appreciation and respect of those in the system to the very process.
Otherwise there could prevail a chaotic culture wherein successive set of office-bearers tweak rules to suit their agenda. This way they would need not follow rules but instead conveniently tweak it whenever required!
In this instance the most crucial change proposed is the cooling-off period. The proposed amendment wants the president (Ganguly) and secretary (Jay Shah) to be allowed to serve two consecutive terms i.e. for six years, solely at BCCI before cooling-off period comes into force.
If the amendment goes through and is subsequently approved by the Court, Ganguly and Shah will not have to quit next year. Their stint completed as part of Cricket Association of Bengal and Gujarat Cricket Association respectively will not be taken into account as envisaged by Lodha.
However, what this would ensure is that a person can be office bearer of his state unit for six years and then straightaway be elected to BCCI for another six years without the mandatory cooling off period in between.
While the cooling off period may not be to the liking of many within the system, it could bring in some fresh thinking and possibly new ideas. It may even turn out to be beneficial. Unless this is given a shot and reviewed after a reasonable period of time, the proposed amendment would smack of being self-serving.
Worse, if this sort of amendment is allowed to be carried out without giving the new rule a fair run, it would set the ball rolling for future amendments that office bearers find restrictive or inconvenient.
Of course this and other amendments would depend on the outcome of yet another critical amendment: where BCCI empowers itself to ‘repeal, add, amend or alter’ any rule with a three-fourths majority without having to seek court permission.
What this means, in simple terms, is that all the reforms done by the Lodha Committee and all the changes made by the Supreme Court over this four-year period can be upturned by the BCCI as per its whims and fancy.
Surely BCCI does not think that the law is what Mr Bumble in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist said? That it can swat away four years of the court’s and others’ time just because a couple of people found some clauses inconvenient? And brazenly, within three weeks of taking charge!
There are other amendments proposed, like the removal of age restriction for BCCI representative to ICC, taking daily management away from CEO, giving powers to secretary, etc.
Whether the Lodha amendments would improve administration better than the current rules would remain unknown if changes are permitted.
Sure the BCCI should be allowed to improve and tweak rules as and when they go along. But for that, the current set of rules need to be studied over a reasonable period of time.
Instead, BCCI members’ attempt to change the new rules within weeks of taking charge smacks of disdain and an amazing sense of righteousness. Pointedly, this is exactly how BCCI office-bearers of yore would have behaved. So what has changed, really? Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme (More things change, more they remain the same).
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