Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The IPL Spot Fixing Scandal has been throwing up more and more sinister skeletons out of all its cupboards. The putrid journey into the vast and endless terrain of sordid details of bookie connections, underworld connections, Bollywood connections and top cricketing involvement is only speeding up. Police interrogation of the Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh, arrested yesterday for his involvement with top bookies, reveals that Vindoo was in constant touch with Gurunath, the son-in-law of the BCCI boss and owner of the IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings (CSK). This leads the racket right up to the top level of BCCI itself. Interestingly, Vindoo was a close friend of the wife of Mahendra Singh Dhoni--the Indian Captain and Captain of CSK--as stadium and party photographs amply demonstrate. This spells big trouble for BCCI and this may also indicate why the Board was not interested in tough action. You may ask--was that emergency meet of the Board addressed by the President or the owner of CSK?
The buck does not stop here either. Although the Delhi High Court rejected the petition seeking a ban on IPL saying that the Supreme Court had already ruled in that issue, the court agreed to hear a revised petition seeking a direction to the Indian Government to take over control of IPL and segregate BCCI from IPL. The crucial hearing is scheduled on 23rd August, 2013. Another public petition was filed in the Madras High Court demanding that Indian Government take over Indian Cricket management and bar the BCCI from using 'Indian Cricket Team' for its team. The petition also sought a CBI probe into the spot fixing scam. The Court heard this petition and issued notices to the Government of India, BCCI and the IPL Commissioner asking them to respond within two weeks.
The trail also leads to widespread speculation about a few names of Bollywood superstars and former top cricketers likely to come up in due course. The connection of Don Dawood Ibrahim of the D-Company in cricket match or session or spot fixing has already been established thanks to statements made by his brother Iqbal Kaskar who has been in the custody of Mumbai Police since 2003. Big money and the clout thus created win always in
. Let Big Money
be defeated this time. Let the investigations not fall short of cleansing
Indian Cricket, permanently and irrevocably. India
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The Spot Fixing scandal surrounding the money spinning Indian Premiere League (IPL) is becoming bigger, louder and murkier every passing day. Today, Mumbai Police arrested the son of the legendary wrestler-actor Dara Singh and a Bollywood cum television actor Vindoo Dara Sing for his alleged links with the bookies. Vindoo was supposedly acting as a conduit between the bookies and the cricketers to fix match or sessions or spots in the IPL tournament. Sources reveal that he was earlier questioned by Mumbai Police in this regard. The winner of the television reality show Big Boss-Season 3 hosted by none other than Amitabh Bachchan in 2009, Vindoo Dara Singh was remanded to police custody till the 24th of May. This is the first official instance of Bollywood link to bookies apart from the big-money franchisee links to the IPL. Also, after Sanjay Dutt it is the second back to back Bollywood instance of spoilt brats putting their great parents to shame.
As a booster for the Delhi Police investigations the remand of the three cricketers including the volatile Sreesanth and 8 other bookies has been extended for five more days. Four accused including a Ranji player were remanded to two weeks police custody. Another Ranji cricketer and three more bookies have been arrested as per the latest updates.
The Supreme Court of India today rapped up the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the irregularities in the IPL and primarily for the Board’s lackadaisical approach to the evil that was present all the time. It ordered the BCCI submit a report within two weeks mentioning involvement of players in the scandal and to restore cricket as the gentleman’s game. The Supreme Court was hearing a public petition seeking a ban on all remaining matches of the IPL. Of course, it dismissed the petition saying that a court cannot decide playing or banning of cricket matches. Meanwhile, Delhi High Court is set to hear another petition on banning IPL tomorrow. On a positive note the Indian Law Minister Kapil Sibal met the Sports Minister again this evening for a new law on match fixing in any sport.
As if enough is not enough, the Sahara Group pulled out of the IPL today, finally ending a cricket sponsorship saga of more than eleven years. The dispute between BCCI and Sahara was going on since last year when the latter threatened to pull out due to financial issues, but a truce was ushered in urgently. Accordingly, Sahara readied the Pune Warriors team for IPL-6. However, the team did miserably and finished as second last. Sahara Group could not pay up the franchisee fee to BCCI in time and therefore the BCCI decided to encash the bank guarantee. Blaming BCCI for this unilateral act Sahara pulled out just when the Vindoo Dara Singh arrest was creating ripples throughout.
The future of Indian cricket never looked so bleak. The decision of the ICC to rally around the BCCI brings up again the power-play of big-money in cricket and delivers another lethal blow to cricket. IPL must be banned or totally redefined to define Cricket.
Monday, May 20, 2013
After showing no urgency in the emergency meet yesterday in Chennai the BCCI seemed to have passed the buck over to the affected IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals (RR). Accordingly today the RR has distanced itself from the implicated players and is likely to file an FIR with the police against them. However, more promisingly, the BCCI has sent its officials to Delhi to meet Delhi Police in a supposed effort to get more information on the IPL Spot Fixing case. Yesterday, the BCCI President N Srinivasan had denied having enough information from the police. Meanwhile, Delhi police has arrested a former Ranji cricketer in the domestic circuit and two more bookies. At the moment the CCTV footage seems to hold the key for producing conclusive evidence in the courts.
The Government of India, apparently shaken by this huge scam, is mulling to formulate a separate law to deal with match and spot fixing cases sternly. Indian Law Minister Kapil Sibal met the Sports Minister last night and discussed about the issue. Kapil Sibal said that the Indian Penal Code (IPC) does not recognize match or spot fixing as offenses and can deal with them only under Section 420 of the IPC that refers to cheating or frauds. Since this cannot deal with match fixing effectively a separate law is the urgent need of the hour and a new Bill to check match fixing is likely to be presented in the next session of the Indian Parliament, the Law Minister added. Sibal also said that such scams harm public faith in sports and any kind of fixing must be prevented in all disciplines of sports. The Sports Ministry also confirmed that efforts were still on to bring the BCCI under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
Police custody for the three cheats ends tomorrow and there are reports that the Kingpin of fixing, Sreesanth, is set to move for bail. There are also reports that all three cheats have confessed to their crimes and with conclusive evidence forthcoming Delhi Police could appeal for extended custody and denial of bail. Everything must be ensured so that the complete IPL scandal comes to public light and the criminals severely punished. This is a decisive moment to cleanse cricket once for all.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Even as the IPL Spot Fixing Scam got bigger in terms of reach, penetration and implications the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) held an emergency meeting in Chennai today and did absolutely nothing. Perhaps it had taken heart from the widely expressed opinion by cricket experts that bans hardly work as deterrent for the cricketers and therefore desisted from taking any tough action against the three cheats charged by the police with criminal offenses unlike last time when a sting operation exposed five players. The Board feigned total ignorance about the police investigations and referred to the three cheats as ‘alleged’ fixers saying that they would take action if the three criminals are proved guilty. Coincidentally, the respective lawyers of the trio vouched for their innocence. The BCCI seemed to have taken full solace in their own inquiry committee appointed for the purpose and reasserted that they would do nothing till its report is received.
In fact, the BCCI President N Srinivasan has been maintaining since the scam surfaced that the BCCI ‘is not a government’ or ‘is not an investigating agency’ or ‘is not a political authority’. And today in Chennai he reiterated the same expressing the Board’s inability to take action against the criminals or the bookies. But why can’t it at least file criminal complaints against the three or more potential fixers? And why can’t it realize what it is fully capable of doing? Like making IPL a genuine cricket tournament; stopping selling and buying of cricketers; maintaining transparency of accounts; getting rid of all glamor quotients like the cheerleaders, the strategic time-out that proved to be a boon for bookies to abet betting, loud orchestration of music and other commercial gimmicks; reducing the number of matches and introducing strict disciplinary rules and accountability for the franchises and the players. The BCCI could do it, but won’t; because it basically wants to rake in the dirty money by attracting hordes of revelers and gullible spectators to throng the stadiums or the television sets at the cost of cricket.
Therefore, the BCCI takes resort to the most ridiculous contention that despite the scam IPL matches are still getting full houses, and that the President of BCCI is indeed grateful for the continuing public support. Well, N Srinivasan should concentrate on counting how many in the crowds turn out to be fans of genuine cricket and how many picnickers. Now, he talks of ‘educating’ the players and constituting anti-corruption committees for each of the franchises. Well, why did he not think of educating in 2008 and what exactly the anti-corruption committee of the BCCI doing? The plain truth is that no moneyed interests vested in T20 Cricket could possibly risk the ‘health and wealth’ of the flourishing cricket bonanza called IPL.
Concerned cricket fans are asking for naming all match fixers as criminals and severe punishment for the guilty. However, the money-greed-lust madness called IPL would be very difficult to control effectively thanks to the huge vested interests. Particularly in a country like India where a nationwide anti-corruption movement miserably fails even to move the corrupt an inch and where police officers investigating corruption scams get caught receiving bribes! We are left with the only one option. BAN IPL NOW! SAVE CRICKET TOMORROW!
It was happening all the time; it was only waiting to get exposed. Since the inception of IPL in 2008 we have been steadfastly asserting our opposition to IPL in these pages and following last year’s sting operation we had indicated that the underbelly of IPL was waiting to explode. Unfortunately what is being played in various stadiums is cricket of course, but the myriad layers of corruption surrounding it are far removed from the game and are sinister games in themselves. IPL has always been a sordid saga of sin, greed, lust, slam and glam, rampant betting and money laundering, underworld sponsorships and blackmail. Most of the revelers filling the stadiums go there to freak out, have wild picnics, enjoy cricket movies and shout their throats out. They are hardly cricket fans!
Delhi Police, always lambasted for its shoddy handling of crimes against women, does good work this time by hauling up three Indian Premiere League (IPL) cricket-fixers in the dead of the night of Wednesday, the 15th of May, 2013 from a five-star hotel in Mumbai. Working on phone transcripts indicating dubious exchanges between players and bookies, parties where women mixed freely with players and others, and making sure the evidence was enough the three players were arrested and taken to Delhi for interrogation and police custody. The spot fixing episode became bigger with bookie and underworld connections spanning various cities of India, and Pakistan and Dubai. Eleven bookies were also arrested in the following days. This huge story broke around noon of Thursday—the 16th of May—when all media attention was focused on the surrender of the mega movie star ‘Munnabhai’ Sanjay Dutt who finally gave himself up at a special court in Mumbai after running out of all appealing options for his involvement in the Serial Blast Case of Mumbai in 1993. Another huge day for the media was thus created.
The three IPL cheats were—Sreesanth who played both Tests and one-day internationals, and was known to be a volatile, emotional and aggressive cricketer and who became famous in IPL after the slap he received from Harbhajan Singh; Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila both of whom are spinners. All three cheats belonged to the franchise owned by film actress Shilpa Shetty, Rajasthan Royals. Using codes while in action on the field they spot fixed at least three matches played by their team.
Yesterday Mumbai Police made some more progress by seizing Sreesanth’s laptop, I-Pad, mobile phones and some cash from the five-star hotel where they stayed on their own and not on the hospitality of the IPL—another dubious finding. Mumbai Police is also having access to the CCTV footage of the hotel and reports indicate that the bookies might have tried to lure the players not only with huge cash but also with women, and even tried to blackmail them by making MMS of their sex orgies. Delhi Police has also been trying to access CCTV footage of other hotels involving other matches and a whole lot of players. The full IPL-6 and other versions are fixed tournaments? You hardly know!
And, the father of IPL, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has done nothing so far apart from suspending the three players. (To be continued…)
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Even as the worst crisis for the ruling UPA-2 coalition government continued to gain momentum every day this week witnessed two huge days for the media fraternity—Wednesday, the 8th of May 2013, and Friday the 10th of May 2013. That momentous Wednesday was a picture of ecstasy and agony—a political study in contrasts. And, on Friday yesterday heads rolled as expected and anticipated on a daily basis.
The main national opposition BJP has been chasing the Congress led UPA-2 Government relentlessly, tirelessly and also ambitiously on the issue of corruption for the last at least two years. In its obsessed aim of cornering the Government the BJP, basically a political party that ruled India earlier, even did not bother joining hands with the anti-corruption activists—at times with Anna Hazare and with Baba Ramdev at other. But, the BJP was routed in the Assembly Elections of the southern state of Karnataka the counting for which was taken up on Wednesday for running a corrupt and non-performing government there. The root cause being BS Yeddyurappa, a veritable symbol of corruption, defecting from BJP and forming a separate political entity thus splitting the votes as well as creating a somewhat anti-corruption wave in the state.
Congress party of the scam and corruption infested UPA-2 got a landslide victory and was in a position to form the government on its own. This was the ecstasy for the beleaguered national party—the highlights being the prevention of further corruption through possible horse trading on a hung verdict and the marginalization of Yeddyurappa who naturally wanted to be a kingmaker. However, almost simultaneously that Wednesday the agony came in the form of the Supreme Court of India slamming UPA-2 for meddling with the Coalgate report of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to the apex court and making the premier investigating agency of the country a ‘caged parrot’. The position of the Law Minister became untenable after those scathing observations and the Railway Minister was already in the dock for Railgate. Pressure mounted on UPA-2 to punish the indicted ministers. The ministers’ alleged closeness to the Prime Minister made it all the trickier for the ruling coalition. The stock responses like ‘Let investigations take the due course’ or ‘The matter is sub-judice’ failed to convince anyone.
Mounting media and public pressure forced the Government to take the much awaited action. Two top cabinet ministers were sacked within just one hour last evening, the Friday we mentioned. Now, this move can very well be interpreted as taking cue from the so-called anti-corruption wave of Karnataka Poll and punishing the corrupt, and if it is so things are not to be merrier for the BJP. Because, to try coming back to power in its only southern bastion, Karnataka, the BJP still wants Yeddyurappa badly. If it does take him back it will be criticized as welcoming back corruption for political ends. Therefore, the citizens of this hapless country stand to benefit by default if the issue of anti-corruption becomes the main plank for 2014 General Elections.
However, politics is politics. For the latest the BJP and the Left parties are now, as expected, after the Prime Minister of India demanding his resignation.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The Indian ruling coalition, UPA-2, never faced a bigger crisis than this. Already embroiled in various scams the last few days witnessed explosions of opposition ire and an increasing threat to the very existence of the government with the prospects of General Elections-2014 getting really fluid and volatile. The opposition political parties, prominently the BJP, demand immediate resignations of two indicted central ministers linking this to the ultimate and outstandingly maintained demand for the resignation of the Indian Prime Minister. They have been stalling the proceedings of the Indian Parliament session continuously making this 15th Parliament the lowest productive ever in terms of passing crucial bills.
The cornered Government has been trying desperately to buy time since it understands that even after sacking the two ministers the opposition would hardly stop and go vigorously after the Prime Minister—the ultimate target. The Government has also been trying to turn attention to passing Bills meant for the common people like the Food Security Bill and for this top leaders have been negotiating with the opposition to allow Parliament to function till the budget session ends on 10th of May, 2013. But the BJP having relishing field days in opposition politics says nothing doing—first resignations, then Bills.
We have always been familiar with two Gates—the
Gate in Delhi
and the Gateway of India in Mumbai, both being historical monuments and
heritage sites. Of course, in the eighties we heard about the Bofors Gate that
rattled up India for more
than twenty years and proved India’s
corruption capability to the world in terms of reach and volume. However, in
the last two years the ‘Gates’ have multiplied banishing 'heritage' out of the window and some of them have even made
Bofors look like child-play. The
Coalgate, the Railgate, the Adarsh Gate, the Chitgate and more of the like if
you qualify the 2G Spectrum Scam and the Commonwealth Games Scam as Gates.
The situation is as chaotic as dangerous. You wonder, if some government officers afford to pay millions of bucks as just bribes how much s/he must be actually earning out of salaries with corruption. As corruption refuses to leave the Indian roots you tend hopelessly to lose faith in getting a job on pure merit and getting a posting as per your efficiency. If top government posts are up for outright sale what about the other jobs in others sectors of public domain? If someone buys a job for a handsome amount of cash his/her immediate urge would to be to recover that money by hook or by crook in quick time and thus fitting naturally into the vicious circle of corruption.
Talking of elections, the voters have just one option—reject the most corrupt party and vote for the less corrupt one. So sorry to say that. Hope India would finally prove us wrong. Somehow!
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Trinamool means grassroots and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) party with Mamata Bannerji as its leader romped home in the 2011 elections of West Bengal seemingly winning the votes at the grassroots and rescuing the poor commoners from the ‘clutch’ of the long ruling Left. The masses of the state had hailed the win as a kind of revolutionary, not knowing what would follow. In fact, a whole lot of shockingly bizarre events followed with Mamata Bannerji as the Chief Minister ranging from Baby Deaths, Rape controversies to curbing of freedom of expression. The Merciless Mamata syndrome showed no signs of stopping. And now, the grass-root reality of her government gets exposed again with the Saradha Chit Fund Case that looted the poor of their lifelong savings.
Chit Funds (Ponzi schemes) are very common in India flourishing with the investments of fallible and vulnerable commoners and with rampant political patronization. Scores of poor investors went bankrupt as the Saradha Chit Fund was proved a Cheat Fund with its kingpin fleeing first and then getting arrested. The scenes of the poor people of West Bengal and Assam losing their lifelong savings were heart wrenching and so far two poor investors reportedly committed suicide. The people of West Bengal erupted in protests all over the state demanding immediate refund.
Fighting complicity of several politicians of TMC in the scam and with the continuing crackdown of the Government of India on such fraud chit funds Mamata became desperate. She wanted 50 million bucks to somewhat compensate the poor investors and in her efforts to raise that money she created more controversies. She started making donations that were allegedly donated earlier to her government only by the fraud Chit Fund. More bizarre happenings were in store. Mamata imposed a ten percent local tax on cigarettes to raise some amount of the money needed and in a media conference advised people to ‘smoke as frequently as they could’ so that she could compensate the poor. Her ‘smoke joke’ has shocked all and irked particularly the medical fraternity.
In India the poor provides the vote banks to most political parties and the ‘gratified’ political parties offer sops in return. But, in the final bargain the poor only stands to get looted, looted and looted.
Is this just the tip of the iceberg?
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Watching Chris Gayle in action the thought often comes to our mind, what will happen if he gets just uncontrollable like the unstoppable bullet train or the speeding bus! That’s exactly what happened yesterday, the 23rd of April 2013, in Bangalore in his team Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)’s match against Pune Warriors during the on-going Indian Premiere League—2013 (IPL-6). His bulldozing yet effortless shots all around the park created world records not just for IPL or T20 Cricket, but also for the world of cricket.
Gayle raced to his century in just 30 balls, a world record in all formats of cricket. He hit 13 fours and 17 huge sixes in his unbeaten knock. His tally of 17 sixes created another world record in all formats of the game, and RCB had also achieved a new high of 23 team sixes in a match. He did not seem to end his innings at 175, but the allotted 20 overs were over by then. This became the highest individual score ever in the history of T20 cricket. He helped his team reach a total of 263—the highest ever team score in the history of T20 cricket. In fact, Gayle has also completed a century with the help of sixes only (17 * 6= 102!). By then the result of the match was a forgone conclusion with the hapless Pune Warriors losing by a huge margin of 130 runs. Gayle already holds an IPL record of scoring four big hundreds.
Chris Gayle’s unbelievable knock of 175 in 66 balls created ripples throughout the world of cricket. India captain and T20 specialist MS Dhoni got overwhelmed by the superlative display of flawless batting. Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, had reportedly expressed his ecstasy saying Gayle was “not human, he’s a tsunami mixed with a nuclear bomb”. Yes, he is definitely Hurricane Gayle. His knock assumes great significance in IPL-6 where most of the matches played so far are low-scoring and choked with the bowlers enjoying an edge and achieving several hattricks already.
It is another wonder that despite having a player like Chris Gayle as the opener RCB has not been able yet to lift the title or rather any kind of T20 Championship titles, though they have proved to be the most consistent team in IPL reaching the knockout or semis stage several times.
But then, IPL-6 is not even halfway through, only 33 match have been played and in all there are 76 scheduled matches. With the participation of many greats and veterans this extravaganza of money spinning tournament has invariably managed to inject some amount of genuine cricket too. By the way, today India cricket giant Sachin Tendulkar turns 40. Wishing him a Happy Birthday the cricket-crazy nation must be geared up to see some fascinating cricket from the little master in the rest of the IPL-6 matches.
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