The more things change the more they remain the same, is an adage that has universal application. Countries with a far more progressive outlook and democratic tradition than India have struggled to root out entrenched vested interests from their system. In India, the Supreme Court ventured into this dangerous territory to reform cricket administration’s medieval structure.
Despite its power and authority, it has failed so far to bring about any meaningful change in the cricket body’s set-up. Lodha Commission reforms are not being implemented and even if they will be someday, it will be, to quote Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “more honoured in the breach than in observance”.
The template for how to circumvent even the most well-meaning set of guidelines has been set in motion in Delhi. The Delhi District Cricket Administration (DDCA) elections are due on June 30.
One of the more notorious cricket bodies in the country was on the orders of the Delhi High Court being governed by Justice Vikramjit Sen for the past one year. Plagued with charges of corruption, nepotism, proxy voting and financial bungling, the court had disbanded its existing office-bearers and appointed Justice Sen as administrative head to clean up the mess.
The elections are now being held minus proxy voting and the eligibility criteria is what the Lodha Panel has recommended. This includes age cap, three-year cooling-off period and no government official or minister being eligible to contest the elections.
For the president’s post, the contestants are former cricketer Madan Lal, the owner of a well-known TV channel Rajat Sharma and lawyer Vikas Singh. Madan Lal is being accused of having a conflict of interest, as he runs a cricket academy in Delhi, Sharma is seen to be close to the seat of political power and Singh wields tremendous clout as president of the Supreme Court Bar Council.
But the real drama is in the contests for other posts. Contesting for vice-president is Shashi Khanna, wife of former DDCA vice-president CK Khanna and Rakesh Bansal, brother of former DDCA president Sneh Bansal. For the joint secretary’s post, Pushpendra Chauhan, brother of former vice-president and cricketer Chetan Chauhan is one of the two contestants, the other being Rajan Manchanda, brother of former treasurer Ravinder Manchanda.
The list is endless, be it those who are contesting for a director’s post or a woman director’s post. All of them are relatives of a former set of powerful administrators who are ineligible to contest. It is obvious that though there will be no proxy voting, there will be proxy governance. This is the template which all other state associations will follow when they elect their own set of office-bearers. And this will be copied right up to the top when the BCCI will be forced to implement the new constitution.
What does this farce mean for good, transparent governance, the spirit behind the Lodha panel recommendations? The man behind these reforms, Justice RM Lodha, is perturbed, maybe even shocked at these developments, but says they could not have barred relatives of those ineligible from contesting elections. “That would have been undemocratic,” he says.
He believes that when in most walks of life, we in India have found a way to tamper with the system, it is for the people to realise that they need to change. Unless the mindset changes, nothing will change. He is hopeful that with time, a positive transformation will take place. Those who know how the system works and manipulate it for their vested interests live in the real world. Utopia is for dreamers.