Dalmiya the survivor
The politicisation of Indian cricket is hardly news these days, but one can safely say it has reached new a high (or low) with the usually pragmatic Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee jumping into the cesspool. We have already had worthy gentlemen like Sharad Pawar, Manohar Joshi, Kirti Azad (admittedly an ex-cricketer) and of course, Laloo Yadav himself doing the rounds of the corridors of power in the one game that matters to India. Dalmiya, some would say, is one of the biggest and baddest of them all. Where is the game heading? It was alright for the odd politician like Madhava Rao Scindia to be involved with the game, even if it set somewhat of a precedent. At least he seemed to have his heart in the right place as far as the game was concerned. The same couldn't be said of some of the others who have increasingly been threatening to make their presence felt one way or the other. It's not just about hobnobbing with celebrities and the gadflies that they attract any more - it is of course common knowledge that there is a lot of money involved now. The money-power equation then makes it inevitable, given the dynamics of our politics, that sooner or later most of the institutions would be run by those who seek power and pelf. To bemoan this state of affairs is natural, but it would be naive to think it was all hunky dory before. At the state and lower levels, the game has always been 'looked after' by despicable characters whose sole credentials were political or other powerful connections. Monumental neglect of the domestic game by everyone concerned, the public included, served well to hide the skeletons in seeming wastelands like the Orissa Cricket Association (whose current honcho I believe is Ranjib Biswal, a fine cricketer in his day, but more importantly with strong political connections). Selectorial indiscretions, including allegations of bribery and favouritism, may be sensational material for increasingly avaricious media outlets, but these are passe at the grassroots levels. As for financial management, one can only imagine the goings on. With mediocre performances from the national side, one wonders if there is anything to be optimistic about. Sure, there are some fine individual performers around, and the skipper himself is a giant of the game. But in a time of ever more inane controversies and power struggles, the game itself has been somewhat marginalised. But as long as there is enough material for Navjot Sidhu to rant about on the Cricket Controversies show, who cares? The crazy sardar is entertaining, after all. And it's all about entertainment, innit? - NK PS: One final word on the Dalmiya episode - I agree with Jyoti Basu when says Bhattacharjee shouldn't have interfered with the CAB elections, but I do feel queasy about anyone who the venerable Mr.Basu (not to mention Subhash Chakraborty) endorses. The whole thing smacks of irony, I say.