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DDCA elections: loss or gain?

Why the new administration needs to ensure the DDCA is run in a more professional and transparent manner

The results are out. Seeing the results, where the Rajat Sharma panel swept the polls, many cricket lovers felt despondent. While Rajat Sharma comes with clean hands, most others do not. After having waged a virtual war to cleanse the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) of various corrupt practices, I was not oblivious to the determined effort that ex-office bearers would make to preserve their family control over DDCA. But to see so much interest from outsiders and non-cricketers to get into Delhi’s cricket body’s administration has surprised me.
Voting saw approximately 2,800 members turning out to vote personally and if they voted for relatives and friends of ex-office bearers, I can just hope that we get some sports lovers as members in the coming years. Also, that membership is not given on the basis of friendship and business considerations as has been the case all these years.
Rajat Sharma has been a friend for long. But, even he does not know what he has got into. With his panel having virtually swept the elections, only now, will he realise what he has gotten into. In fact, half his panel consists of relatives of the erstwhile office bearers, many of whom were accused of all kinds of malpractices. The winning group (Read Sneh Bansal-Vinod Tihara) boasts of brothers and friends of the previous regime, which has been responsible for the current mess in the DDCA. Their nefarious role in manipulating selections and in mismanaging the administration reached such a low that the Delhi High Court was compelled to appoint former judges to run the affairs of the DDCA.
And, what a fine job the two successive ex-judges did? With support from most quarters, including the Delhi High Court, they went about cleaning up the wrong practices that had been introduced by these ‘winners’. From mismanaging administration to crooked selections, from giving contracts to favourites to cannibalising clubs — the ex-judges brought sanity by keeping these ex-office bearers at an arm’s length and went about the business of running the association professionally.
After two years, the DDCA has been recognised as the best-run state association. Delhi’s performance on the cricket field has been praiseworthy. But this appears as a blip on the screen, when one sees the relatives and friends of ex-office bearers who have won. Arun Jaitley could not control these office bearers (nine inquiry reports have confirmed mismanagement and embezzlement) — now to expect Rajat Sharma to control these very office bearers, will be a tough task.
What perturbs me, is why people from other fields should get into cricket administration? What are the qualities that these businessmen with no passing relationship to cricket bring to the table? Have we not seen these very self-professed qualities being laid to bare in the past?
One of the previous presidents used to while away his time without sorting out the mess that his colleagues were creating in every which way. While this lawyer had to leave on a sour note, he left behind a legacy of incompetence and unaccountability. Following his departure, his trusted secretary became the next president and was caught transferring a large amount of DDCA money into his own company, through a “friendly vendor”. Now, relatives and friends will look to take their places and to preserve what is considered the family jewel, ie DDCA.
Parties, concerts, hampers, anything that the members can be lured with, have been on offer. Money is flowing in plenty. In fact, some members have said privately that they have been nudged into attending parties by their area corporators, who have allegedly been given the task to enlist the support of 2-5 members in their area. Spending crores in DDCA elections by these groups really begs an answer. Where will all this money be recovered from, one does not know. Much as in politics, the days of freebies such as sarees, TVs and fridges may not be far away. Invitations for dinners and concerts were being received by members on a daily basis, many of whom were praying that June 30 never arrives, and the achhe din continue.
For our part, we are fervently hoping that the pre-2015 anarchy does not return. Now that Rajat Sharma has won, he needs to take cricketers and DDCA members into confidence and ensure that earlier office bearers do not run amok once again. Since many of the ex-office bearers had no worthwhile vocation and relied upon questionable means to thrive, Rajat Sharma must ensure that the contractor business in the DDCA ends. Cricket should be kept away from the reach of these office bearers and their relatives, and vice versa. In short, Rajat Sharma should ensure that the DDCA follows the rule of law and good corporate governance is adhered to.
Two ex-judges, Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Vikramajit Sen have made keen efforts to get the cricket and DDCA administration back on track. With R90 crore of subvention money overdue and the current year’s subvention money of R100 crore waiting to be received, we hope that this money will not disappear into thin air as it was in the past. We have faith in the former Deputy Comptroller and Auditor General nominee to keep a tab on expenses in DDCA.
I wish that the two cricketers, Madan Lal and Surender Khanna, who had shown guts to contest these elections, had won. It is not a happy feeling to see three International cricketers being humbled in polls to their parent cricket body. Cricket has lost and as in other fields, it just shows that commercial considerations rule the roost, far more than emotions. Little wonder many sportspersons choose to become lackeys of crooked administrators and prefer to be associated with the game rather than run it themselves. Let’s just look at any sports body in India and we will know the reason why no respectable sportsperson wants to surrender his/her self-respect at the altar of an electoral win.
We fought the previous corrupt regime tooth and nail and our struggle has led to a landmark decision by the Supreme Court. My fellow cricketers and I, under the charge of our ex-Indian captain, Bishan Singh Bedi did whatever we could to ensure transparency and integrity in DDCA’s functioning. I do hope that Rajat Sharma will keep out vested interests, who are bound to make every effort to somehow sneak back into power, and perpetuate what has always been done. We shall remain watchdogs as always and will not hesitate in approaching the courts to get the Central Bureau of Investigation’s help to retrieve the DDCA’s lost money. Justice must prevail and all the money that was embezzled must be brought back. I have full faith in the judiciary and I hope that some of the office bearers of that time will be made accountable for all the mal-governance of their time.

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