Our soldiers are dying fighting terrorists who are infiltrating Kashmir with the active support of Pakistan. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)—the richest cricket body in the world—has cleared India to play with Pakistan. Last week, Colonel Santosh Mahadik, the commanding officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, died in a gunfight with militants in Kashmir. A week later, the BCCI and Pakistan Cricket Board agreed to play a short bilateral series in mid-December. Earlier this year, when India played Pakistan in the World Cup, television company Star India charged Rs 25 lakh per 10 seconds from advertisers—one of the highest-ever amounts demanded for airing a cricket match. Companies rushed to pay up to Rs 20 lakh in last-minute spot buying. Colonel Mahadik’s young wife and two children, aged 5 and 11, will get Rs 10 lakh as compensation. The BCCI, which made Rs 300 crore from the ICC in the past eight years, will be raking in Rs 4,000 crore in the next eight-year cycle (2015-2023)—a 13-fold increase in revenue.
The conditions Pakistan has set to play degrade India. The government has refused to play ball with Pakistan on peace talks, but the political heavy-hitters in the BCCI have decided to ignore the humiliation Pakistan is heaping on India, signalling that money is more important than national honour for which our soldiers die every day.
First, Pak T20 captain Shahid Afridi declared Pakistan would play in India only after the PCB gets written guarantees from the BCCI, which had already agreed to host a series with Pakistan on a 50-50 revenue-sharing basis. “I remember the last time we went to India in 2012-13, BCCI earned crores of rupees and we got nothing,” Afridi told a TV channel. After that, in late November, Pakistan flatly refused to play in India. Now, the BCCI and PCB have decided to play in “neutral” Sri Lanka, indicating that money talks louder than the national mood. It’s obvious that the Indian people do not trust any hypocritical CBMs (even after Pakistan threatened India with ICBMs) at a time when both countries have abandoned all pretences of friendship. Terrorists continue to spill blood in Kashmir, and the Pak premier loves the K-word. The cricket-loving Dawood will surely watch the match in the series starting December 15, thanks to the BCCI’s love for money and for the PCB.
The PCB is broke. An official admitted that unless the India-Pak series was held, its five-year contract with broadcasters, which would have earned them $150 million, would diminish to $80-90 million. Essentially, the BCCI’s determined deities are bailing out Pakistan’s corruption-ridden cricket body, which has insulted India by refusing to play in the country. Our avaricious politicians and cricket mafia are placing money over the national interest.
The power to give away marquee passes, the glamour of being the gods of the game, and the sheer financial muscle and prestige it gives them go against the will of the BJP government, which has been successfully taking Pakistan’s wickets on Kashmir and terror, especially after PM Narendra Modi’s speech in the UN in September ignoring Nawaz Sharif’s K-remark as facetious.
India should not play cricket with Pakistan. It is blatantly hypocritical to pretend everything is hunky-dory by playing the “gentleman’s game” as Indian soldiers and citizens fall to terrorists’ bullets. It’s time the money-grubbing BCCI realised that the Tricolour is priceless.