Sports fans are stunned by the exposures of corruption in the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches. The Justice Mukul Mugdal Committee to probe the IPL corruption has submitted its findings to the apex court after sifting all the evidence available including many taped conversations between betting bookies. Briefly, their findings are that there was systematic match fixing in which BCCI officials, celebrity owners of teams and top cricket players are suspected of involvement. The illegal money generated by betting syndicates had sanction from underworld don Dawood Ibrahim for possible use in terrorist activities. Most damningly, the BCCI President’s own son-in-law has been charged with corruption and match fixing. Much before the committee’s report there were widespread media allegations, including in these columns, of the same charges. The Justice Mudgal Committee has merely confirmed the suspicions.
One would not like to join the popular hand wringing anguish about the corruption of sport and the taint on cricket. One would like to point out how the exposure came about. It came through media reports, Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in a court of law, police investigations and the Supreme Court’s intervention. All through the sordid drama the IPL Governing Council members tried to obfuscate or evade all allegations. The Governing Council could not lift one effective finger against the BCCI President despite the damning evidence. My concern relates to the relevance of the IPL corruption to the 2014 general election.
There were eleven leading politicians who as presidents of state cricket boards were members of the BCCI Governing Council. These included UPA cabinet ministers Mr. Farooq Abdullah, Mr. Rajiv Shukla, Mr. Sharad Pawar and Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia, BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Mr. Narendra Modi, Leader of Opposition Mr. Arun Jaitley and Youth leader Mr. Anuragh Thakur. They constitute the cream of politicians in both the government and the opposition. They were all for the most part helpless spectators or evasively mumbling excuses while credible allegations of the IPL corruption linked to Dawood Ibrahin and endangering national security were flowing thick and fast.
On June 3, 2013 the question was posed in these columns:
“How many other silent vested interests indirectly connected to the cricket scam exist? Clearly a full probe to clean the mess is imperative… IPL cricket is big money. Big money attracts corrupt elements like flies to honey… for the sake of cleaning up dangerous corruption there should be a credible and full fledged investigation. Official investigators have claimed to media that Dawood Ibrahim is the mastermind behind the betting mafia. They claim that a good part of the funds generated by match fixing are used to fund terrorism. If true, beyond corruption it becomes a crisis of national security.”
Now that India is on the threshold of a general election one would like to reiterate a question to our nation’s leading political parties:
Gentlemen, you could not identify or prevent corruption endangering national security carried on under your very noses in just game of cricket. Why should the public expect you to curb corruption and protect national security while governing the entire nation?