CHENNAI: In a dramatic twist to Indian cricket board’s tussle with Supreme Court over implementation of Lodha panel’s recommendations, Railways and Services too plunged into the battle. This is the first time that Union government has become a party in the case.
Even as the Board is facing strong criticism from the SC for not implementing the recommendations, the Railways Sports Promotion Board and Services Sports Control Board have decided to file separate petitions in the court challenging the recommendations. The two government-run institutional boards fear they might lose their voting rights if the recommendations are made binding. The RSPB felt this would lead to serious problems like poaching and retaining players. While the Services felt being one of the founder members they should be relegated as Associate member without voting rights. Interestingly, SSCB have voting rights even in Indian Olympic Association as a founder member. Both RSPB and SSCB have voting rights in almost all the National Sports Federations and are treated as full members.
Though the panel had submitted its report before the SC in January, the RSPB and SSCB had been silent so far.
SSCB was the first one to file a petition before the bench. It is understood Lodha panel’s recommendation to deny RSPB and Services the voting right was seen as a major worry and they had sought opinion from the Union Law Ministry on the subject. After getting the approval of Railway Ministry, they have now approached the Apex Court.
Railways are one of India’s largest sports recruiters and have representation in almost all sports in the country.
Railways, Services and Universities are the only three members who don’t take any money from the BCCI. Though they are mostly kept out when it comes to decision making both the units reckon that denying them of voting rights will make them even more vulnerable and inconsequential in the board. “We just want us to retain the voting rights. We don’t go to the BCCI asking for funds. Denying voting rights will mean we can’t fight for what we want. You are given vote to make sure that you are being heard and if you take away our basic right then nobody is going to take us seriously,” sources in the RSPB told Express.
One of the other reasons that seem to have pushed the RSPB to file the petition is that many state associations poach their players. Under such circumstances if they are reduced to a vote-less member it would make it difficult for them to retain players. “We are completely with Lodha panel when it comes to transparency and all that. But on this matter we differ because we have to protect interest of players. Railways employees nearly 70 per cent of women cricketers and even players who have represented their states in age-group tournaments and Ranji,” the source added.
Though other state units have appealed against one-state, one-vote and age implementations, even several BCCI officials are of the opinion that if RSPB and SSPB are denied voting rights, their chances of remaining as full-members of the BCCI will be difficult. “They may not play a significant role in various activities of the BCCI, but there is no denying the fact that they have contributed a lot to the game. Railways have been one of the oldest recruiters of cricketers and even India’s captain MS Dhoni was a Railways employee,” a BCCI official said.
When contacted, one of the Services Sports Control Board official echoed on the same lines as RSPB, and revealed that Lodha panel had not taken into account the contributions they have made to the game. “We’ve done a lot for the growth of the game and we don’t want us to be reduced into an affiliated member. We just want this to be considered by the panel, nothing more,” he said.