That’s the IPL. Take it to the cleaners, for a thorough scrub down
Frankly, it is too tempting not to start this Saturday’s National Interest with a “we told you so”. On May 10, 2008, K. Shriniwas Rao, then in the brilliant Indian Express sports bureau, laid bare clubby connections, convenient corporate morality and the many conflicts of interest in the IPL in a comprehensive story headlined, most aptly, ‘Indian Parivar League’. It brought me an angry late night call from Lalit Modi. But not a single fact has ever been denied. I, as an incorrigible cricket and IPL enthusiast, also contributed my bit (‘Conflicts of Cricket’, National Interest, June 20, 2009, goo.gl/bgP8K). But the IPL environment was too testosterone- and cash-driven to bother about any such aberration. The BCCI, in any case, is the most cosily multi-partisan political body in India. One where arch antagonists such as Rajiv Shukla and Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and C.P. Joshi, can all work together with a team spirit they wouldn’t display even at the point of a gun in Parliament.
It was so arrogant at that point that when the Central government said it couldn’t guarantee security for the league, which coincided with national elections, within six months of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, instead of considering a rescheduling, the IPL moved to South Africa, unmindful that it would hurt India’s image. After all, the only other country to shift its cricket overseas on security grounds has been Pakistan. Google the images of that edition of the IPL, and you will find the incredibly stupid and pompously “legend in my own eyes” image of Lalit Modi, giving away freebies from IPL profits to schools in black and underprivileged neighbourhoods after each match, as if he was the head of some oil-rich Gulf sheikhdom, or Mahatma Gandhi in a time machine. And IPL-controlled cameras and rented commentators followed his every movement as if he was Elvis Presley and Jerry Maguire sorry, Tom Cruise rolled into one. Then, when stuff hit the fan, as so many of us had feared and predicted, the other honchos of the BCCI got together and threw all the blame on Lalit Modi and sent him into exile in London.