ICC World Cup

Back to BCCI from CoA: Recapping the last 33 months of Indian cricket

The 33-month stint of BCCI’s Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) came to an end on October 23 after the 1st general elections of the body were completed on Wednesday. With a new set of elected office-bearers including former India captain Sourav Ganguly taking over as the President of the BCCI, the Vinod Rai-led CoA’s tenure at the helm of affairs of the board has reached its formal conclusion. Thus, it’s an opportune moment to analyze whether the CoA was able to fulfill its objectives in its tumultuous almost 3-year rule. But before delving into any kind of analysis of the committee it is important to remind oneself why the CoA was appointed in the first place.

The Supreme Court of India had appointed 4 eminent personalities – former CAG Vinod Rai, historian Ramachandra Guha, former India women’s captain Diana Edulji and Vikram Limaye, managing director and CEO of IDFC (Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation) – on January 30, 2017, to oversee the implementation of the Lodha reforms. This was just a few days after the SC had removed then BCCI president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke from their posts for not implementing the majority of the Lodha committee’s recommendations, despite being asked by the apex court to do so. The Court had also made it clear that the tenure of the CoA would last till fresh elections to the BCCI were conducted according to the Lodha guidelines. Since then, the CoA has been practically running the BCCI but the results are not exactly what the Supreme Court or Retd. Justice RM Lodha had stressed on.

Family fiefdom

“The reins of cricket’s richest and arguably most powerful national body remains mired in controversy. With an individual-centric constitution and old power centres that have remained relatively unaltered for years, the BCCI seems to have strayed from its chosen path”: Read the Lodha Committee report at the start of the chapter on governance.

Though the formation of a new Apex Council with a fair mix of elected representatives and independent members is welcome, what has transpired in multiple State bodies makes one think that the problem of ‘old power centres’ continues to infest cricket in India. Here is a look at some of the office bearers now in charge of powerful positions in various states across the country:

– Arun Dhumal (brother of former BCCI president Anurag Thakur) – HPCA president
– Rakesh Rathour (cousin of Anurag Thakur) – Punjab CA VP
– Avishek Dalmiya(son of former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya) – Bengal CA secretary
– Jay Shah (son of former Gujarat CA president Amit Shah) – BCCI secretary
– Adwait Manohar (son of former BCCI president Shashank Manohar) – Vidarbha CA VP
– Rupa Gurunath (daughter of former BCCI president N Srinivasan) – TNCA President
– Jaydev Shah (son of former Saurashtra CA president Niranjan Shah) – Saurashtra CA president
– Himanshu Shah (nephew of former Saurashtra CA president Niranjan Shah) – Saurashtra secretary
– Pranav Amin (son of former BCCI VP and IPL chairman Chirayu Amin) – Baroda CA president
– Ajit Lele (son of former BCCI secretary Jaywant Lele) – Baroda CA secretary

Fair to say that the CoA failed miserably in this regard.

Unilateral decision-making

Before the expiry of 6 months into the CoA’s tenure, the committee was already reduced to a 2-member committee with Guha and Limaye quitting their posts within a space of a few days. While Limaye cited personal reasons for his withdrawal, Guha’s resignation letter to Rai revealed some ugly truths about Indian cricket in general and the CoA in particular. Guha reasoned that there were several crucial decisions made by the committee where all the CoA members were not brought into the loop. Guha also referred to the CoA’s complicity in virtue of its inaction until the last moment when BCCI threatened to pull out of the Champions Trophy 2017.

Handling of Rahul Johri case

The resignations of Guha and Limaye weren’t the last time there were issues amongst the members of the CoA. Reduced to a 2-member body, differences of opinions between chief Vinod Rai and Edulji kept hogging the limelight throughout the committee’s tenure. Whether it was the issue of the appointment of the coach of the women’s team or how to deal with the KL Rahul-Hardik Pandya episode. But one of the biggest letdowns of their tenure was the handling of BCCI CEO Rahul Johri’s sexual harassment case.

Johri was given a clean chit after a panel formed by the CoA couldn’t find him guilty of the sexual harassment allegations leveled against him by 2 women. While 2 members of the panel, who formed the majority opinion, were in favour of Johri continuing in his position, the 3rd member women’s rights lawyer Veena Gowda had remarked that Johri’s conduct was “unprofessional and inappropriate, which would adversely affect its [BCCI’s] reputation” and that it was “essential that [Johri] undergo some form of gender sensitivity counseling/training.” However, no action was taken against him as Vinod Rai didn’t deem any to be taken even after Edulji said that Gowda’s remarks meant that Johri should resign. In the end, Johri resumed charge as soon as he could and the episode only served to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of everyone concerned.

Superstar culture

Guha’s letter to Rai is quite instructive in a way that he had laid out all the issues in the BCCI structure which he wasn’t happy with. For Guha, the much-publicized fallout between Virat Kohli and ex-coach Anil Kumble could have been handled better by the CoA.

“If indeed the captain and the Head Coach were not getting along, why was not this attended to as soon as the Australia series was over in late March? Surely giving senior players the impression that they may have veto power over the coach is another example of superstar culture gone berserk?” wrote Guha. This culture also manifests itself in the fact that despite retiring from Tests more than 5 years ago, MS Dhoni continues to enjoy the benefits of an ‘A’ contract – something Guha had also noted upon in his letter.

Conclusion

As former India captain Sourav Ganguly takes charge of the BCCI from the CoA on October 23, it is difficult to say whether the organization is in better health than when ‘Dada’ had retired from the game. Yes, we have a new BCCI constitution largely based upon the Lodha recommendations – an Apex council, an ombudsman and an Ethics Officer. But the Lodha committee and the Supreme Court must be given more credit for these ‘on-paper’ changes than the CoA itself. On the ground, the BCCI is still infested with archaic governance structures in the hands of the same old regional power structures.

It remains to be seen how Ganguly and his new team tackles these issues but the fact remains that the CoA simply made more noise than progress. Sadly, the committee which was tasked with infusing accountability into the BCCI has already escaped it itself with the SC making it clear on Monday that the committee would be immune from action in respect of any act performed by them as CoA in good faith and that no proceedings could be initiated against the member individually or jointly.

Article source: https://www.indiatoday.in/sports/cricket/story/coa-33-month-tenure-vinod-rai-diana-edulji-vikram-limaye-ramchandra-guha-ravi-thodge-bcci-lodha-reforms-1612254-2019-10-23?utm_source=rss

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