Where Is Modi's Cue?
IPL commissioner Lalit Modi is unlikely to share this view, but his initial tweet on Shashi Tharoor is well poised to go down in history as the beginning of the clean-up Indian cricket badly requires.
Neither the call raised in Parliament to nationalise the cricket league nor the one to ban it makes sense. What such exhortations show is the sense of betrayal that cricket lovers feel over the illicit personal enrichment, or an attempt thereof, that has been made out of their passion for the game.
Indians deserve better. They deserve good, clean fun when it comes to organised, professional sport. IPL represents the first attempt at creating a commercial sporting event on a large scale in India. It has met with wild success, as far as entertaining viewers, discovering new talent and rewarding players are concerned.
It has also met with equally stunning failure, when it comes to keeping sleaze out of organised sport. The present investigations into IPL franchises lifting the corporate veil to find out who exactly has been making money from Indian cricket should begin the cleansing the sport requires.
Mr Tharoor can count himself a martyr to the cause. Mr Modi, too, is well placed to lay claim to similar martyrdom in due course.
A public scandalised at the brazen manner in which the former minister lobbied for a financial transaction that benefited his associate and the imperious manner in which Mr Modi has used the cricket league to enrich himself and his close associates might balk at ‘martyr' as a description for either protagonist.
But without their googlies and sixers, the investigation would never have acquired momentum. Only political skulduggery can now block the probe all the way to those who supervise the IPL in the Board for Control of Cricket in India and allowed IPL to go the way it has.
Mr Tharoor has reason to feel aggrieved. Compared to the achievements of some ministerial colleagues, his IPL feat is a misdemeanour. As of now, his exit reflects political expedience rather than principle. But brilliant outsiders, he must learn, cannot be effective if they show traits of the system they proudly hold in contempt.
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