Azad brands BCCI 'the century's biggest joke'
With India's top politicians associated with the BCCI appearing to be divided over the fate of chief N. Srinivasan in wake of the spot-fixing scandal, former cricketer and BJP MP Kirti Azad on Wednesday said the Indian cricket board has become the biggest joke of the century, and added that the latest episode is one of the darkest phases of Indian cricket since its inception.
"It is getting to be a divided house in the BCCI. Although they are united in corruption, I want to know, first, what has happened to the report of South Africa. When the Standing Committee headed by Yashwant Sinha has already given its report, where is that report? Why don't you people go and insist on that report, which is gathering dust? Where is that report?" Azad told ANI.
"So, they have become joke of the century, laughing stock of the century. All I can say that this is one of the most corrupt mentally, financially association in the world. So far, I had great regards for certain people for whom I still have in the BCCI, but then the others are just spoiling it. They are finishing the game of cricket, which is I think ironically, which I think is sad and I feel this episode is one of the darkest phases of Indian cricket since its inception," he added.
Azad said that he has no faith in the BCCI's three-member probe panel that will investigate the spot-fixing scandal in the recently-concluded season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
"I have no reaction on the three-member committee. I can simply say this (that) I do not trust this committee. There was a committee formed to look into the financial bungling of the IPL that was held in South Africa; and that report has been gathering dust for the last four years, nothing has come out. We have had two top politicians who were top bosses of two associations and also members of the BCCI," he said.
Image: Kirti Azad
'I can understand Farooq Abdullah's compulsion for supporting Srinivasan'
The former cricketer was also critical of the mixed opinions emerging from the BCCI members on whether Srinivasan should step down as the cricket board's president.
"There is a saying that we used to talk about when we were young ''Looking London and Talking Tokyo''. Jyotiraditya Scindia is saying which I am very glad that he did say that the President should resign," said Azad.
"Farooq Abdullah is saying that the President should not resign; I can understand the compulsions of Farooq Abdullah because it is alleged that the reports have reached the BCCI and also the agencies are working on the bungling of 25 crores of the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association. So, I can understand his compulsions," he added.
Scindia, on Tuesday, became the first BCCI office-bearer to openly call for Srinivasan's resignation, saying that propriety demanded that he should step down.
Union Minister and another senior board functionary Farooq Abdullah on the other hand backed the under-fire president, saying there was no reason for him to quit.The clamour for the ouster of Srinivasan as the BCCI President has been growing for the last few days. Srinivasan is under sharp criticism after his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested on charges of betting in the IPL.
Image: N Srinivasan
'Time to restore cricket's dignity'
Meanwhile, BJP National Vice President Smriti Irani joined the chorus to clean up cricket saying that the time has come to clean-up the 'scar' on cricket and restore the dignity of the game.
"The sport of cricket is bigger than any individual considering that it has been a religion in the country. This is the time when the game be cleaned up and guilty be brought to justice. There is need to remove the scar on cricket and its dignity be restored soon," Irani said in Panaji on Wednesday, stating that her comments on the IPL controversy were purely individual.
"Cricket scam is a sad thing because people have faith in cricketers," she said.
Stringent laws should be framed (for anti-spot-fixing and betting) and we have already communicated this to the government, the BJP leader said.
Image: Smriti Irani
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters