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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Movies: Filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh Dies Young At 49!

Morning today brought shocking and very sad news. Extremely talented and iconic film director Rituparno Ghosh passed away in Kolkata at 7.30am after a massive heart attack. He had not been keeping well for the last few days and was reportedly suffering from pancreatitis. He was just 49. An irreparable loss for his native state of Bengal, for the whole of India and Indian Cinema.

Rituparno Ghosh was known for his sensitive portrayal of interpersonal relationships in his films. Making his directorial debut in 1994 Rituparno never looked back and went on to make nearly 20 movies in nearly as many years of his career—many critically acclaimed movies in Bengali, Hindi and in English. Even when he was not well in recent months he was actively engaged in his production work. He has a superlative record of winning 12 National Awards for Best Direction, Best Screenplay and Best Film. His films brought in more National Awards in other categories involving his artistes and technicians. He chose his actors from Bengal as well as from Bollywood, depending on the exquisitely well-defined characters in his films. Rituparno also bagged various nominations to international film festivals and international awards. He also acted in recent years in controversial roles.

Rituparno Ghosh was born in 1963, in a family connected to the film world. He grew up with his parents developing a tremendous bond with them, particularly with his mother. As his artistes say he was always lovable on the sets as he was respected for his command over celluloid. However, his personal life was never above controversies and questions. But he was always bold and frank about anything concerning his personal life as he often boasted of his gender fluidity and being in-between, although dismissing the notion that the roles he acted in were about him in real life.

We with a heavy heart bid adieu to a great filmmaker of India from whom much more exciting creations were expected. May his noble soul rest in eternal bliss.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

IPL Spot Fixing Scandal: HE Is India!

His company, His son-in-law, His franchise, His IPL, His BCCI, His Indian cricket, His India cricket captain, His millions, and HIS India! He is the accused, He is the judge. He appoints his old loyally royally gagged warhorses to probe Himself. His Board includes ministers of the Government of India, His Board includes top politicians of various political parties some of whom are prospective Prime Ministerial candidates and His Board includes more equally moneyed honchos, but they say nothing, comment nothing and do nothing—blissful silence being their golden rule set by Him. He decided to present the IPL-6 Trophy to the winner and He did just that. That He could not give it to Himself or His franchise was a matter only He might have had an answer to. In totality, He is the perfect dictatorial candidate for the all-powerful President to rescue India from the clutch of a miserably spineless democracy.

His officials work as the perfect sycophants to censor the media as we have today helplessly witnessed those brushing aside media questions about the IPL Spot Fixing Scandal that overshadows Indian cricket at the moment  with a confident ‘next question please’. And, the arguably the most aggressive Indian captain MS Dhoni—the hero of millions of Indians—did nothing remotely near to ‘heroic’. With a benign expression very close to being a smile Dhoni ignored his millions of fans and allowed those sycophants gag him totally and decisively. Like so many of his cricket colleagues—present, former and even legends. His control is definitive and final.

He has bought the whole of India with His billions gagging, muting and deafening all individual voices. He allows nobody to rise above His money doled out to them abundantly. He has India at His mercy. Because HE is India. You can give Him any name, any form and any shape, because essentially He is the same. He has only one true companion always coming up to help Him, never leaving Him in times of distress. Corruption! Yes Corruption, thy name is India too!  

Banter apart, the police custody of Vindoo Dara Singh along with three more bookies was extended by three more days by a Mumbai court today. Mumbai Police is now examining a new exciting triangle— Vindoo, Gurunath and Vikram Aggarwal, a third connection of a hotelier pulled up in Chennai. A Delhi court today rejected the bail plea of Sreesanth, but gave him judicial custody till 4th of June along with Chandila. Ankeet Chavan’s bail plea on the basis of his marriage was also rejected and he too was put in judicial custody till 4th June. Gurunath Meiyappan custody will come up again tomorrow in a Mumbai court.

Now the all important question is when the Police would find enough evidence to file the charge sheets. Although there is no law at the moment recognizing match fixing or betting as an offense, several sections of the Indian Penal Code dealing with cheating and fraud could be applied.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

IPL Finals: N Srinivasan Vs BCCI, CSK Vs MI!

The corrupt in India tends to demonstrate a sickeningly familiar behavioral pattern. Even after being caught red-handed they never want to let go of their gold mines out of which they want to continue making the easiest of money. Whatever the magnitude of corruption crime and whatever the pressure mounted on them they continue to propagate their magnanimous innocence. From politics to all other fields including sports prominently this behavioral pattern is evident. You can find ample proofs of this if you care to peruse and find the pages of this site. For such people there should always be one option—sack them as soon as possible, and better put them in jail.

N Srinivasan, the hopelessly implicated President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), arrived yesterday in Mumbai on the way to Kolkata to watch one of the IPL finals being played tonight. In a brief encounter with the media he announced that he did no wrong and would not be bulldozed into quitting. He also made the ridiculous comment that the BCCI was following the rules strictly. In a brazen display of clout he even challenged any other member of BCCI to get elected to replace him as President. Today in Kolkata, N Srinivasan reiterated his resolve not to resign saying that nobody has asked him to do so, that there is no dissent within the BCCI and that only the media and other 'vested' interests have to be blamed for raking up all this muck against him. Well, as per BCCI-IPL contract rules if an official or a member of any franchise brings disrepute the contract of that particular franchise should be terminated immediately. And, the BCCI President or any other member must take morale responsibility for anything done by him/her or by his/her kin.

N Srinivasan continues to be defiant refusing to resign despite his CSK-CEO son-in-law put in jail for his involvement in betting and possibly match fixing too. His BCCI just suspends Gurunath Meiyappan and dissociates from him. Therefore, breaking their own rules he continues to be President and is set to present the IPL Trophy to the winner of the tournament—possibly his own dubious franchise. And, CSK is set to play Mumbai Indians (MI) in the other final tonight instead of getting terminated from IPL.

Nobody including the media and BCCI officials gave him any chance of continuance on Friday midnight after his son-in-law was arrested in Mumbai in the raging IPL Spot Fixing Scandal. From that time the first IPL final is being played between N Srinivasan and right-minded BCCI officials who never want a tainted President bring disrepute to IPL by presenting the winner trophy. In Kolkata the first final is raging with many officials and politicians trying to convince him to call it a day. But to no avail. There is a possibility of BCCI working committee sacking him if three-fourth of the members votes against him. However, with his clout still not gone garnering support of three-fourth is going to be very touch.

Therefore, as things as of now stand, the IPL is deservedly going to be a proven fraud cricket tournament with a fraud President presenting a fixed Trophy to a fraud winner. Meanwhile, Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal reiterated his resolve to draft an anti-fixing law to prevent disappointed to the millions of fans in any sports activity. But pray, why doesn’t the Government of India step in and sack the corrupt Chief! There must be some way of doing this despite the autonomy or dichotomy or whatever.

Police custody of Gurunath Meiyappan was extended to 29th of May by a court in Mumbai last evening. Mumbai Police has been interrogating Gurunath and Vindoo face to face for the second day today. A court in Delhi today extended the police custody of Sreesanth for two more days and agreed to hear his bail plea on 28th May. Ajit Chandila and two bookies have been remanded to police custody till May 28. The third cheat Ankit Chavan and three more bookies have sent to judicial custody till June 4. Delhi Police has been going through the CCTV footage on Sreesanth and bookies. 

Naxals Attack Congress Convoy, Kill 28!

The dreaded Naxals, Maoist extremists, ambushed a Congress convoy last evening in a dense forest area near Bastar in Chhattisgarh state of India and killed 28 including several prominent local Congress leaders. More than 30 were injured including the former Congress Union Minister VC Shukla who is in a critical condition. Around 250 Naxals ambushed a Congress convoy of nearly forty cars that was returning after a rally and attacked them with landmine blasts and rain of bullets. The security in charge of the convoy ran of ammunition while countering the attack. Then the ruthless Maoists surrounded them, took away their mobiles and shot many of them in cold blood. This is the worst Naxal attack of all time in Maoist-infested Chhattisgarh, and follows the recent attack on a Doordarshan transmission center early this month that killed three security personnel. The Naxalism has also been a huge challenge in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra bordering Chhattisgarh in the east with frequent encounters between Naxals and security forces.

The Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi visited Chhattisgarh today and described this as a heinous attack on democracy. They also appealed to all political parties to sink their differences on this matter of  grave concern and put up a united front to tackle the issue. Many leaders of the national opposition BJP condemned the attack and the Chief Minister of the BJP ruled Chhattisgarh assured of all possible steps.

Of late the Naxals have been gradually becoming indistinguishable from the terrorists and as the Prime Minister said today this is posing the biggest challenge to the internal security of the country. Although the Naxals are left-oriented and extremely dissatisfied at the present system, they are still citizens of India which makes the policy to deal with them vexed and complicated. Since some terrorist groups inside the country had been invited for talks with the Government we can suggest the same for the Naxals, trying to convince them and bring them to the negotiation table. Repressive violent measures are likely to incite more violence. We condemn this heinous attack against humanity with all our heart and pray for prevention of such attacks in future.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

IPL Spot Fixing Scandal: Gurunath Meiyappan Arrested!

Crime Branch of Mumbai Police arrested Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of the BCCI Chief N Srinivasan and IPL franchise CSK Boss, late on Friday night for his involvement in the IPL betting and spot fixing racket. Gurunath was grilled for more than two hours before being arrested. The interrogation was scheduled to continue throughout Friday night and next they the police want to grill Gurunath Meiyappan and Vindoo Dara Singh together to confront out the sordid details. News reports say that records of conversations between Gurunath and Vindoo are just explosive and it is now conclusively proved that the racket is as sinister as it is real.

Now BCCI President N Srinivasan must resign. Maybe within twenty four hours. Most BCCI officials are of the same view as per news reports. He tried to cover up the IPL scam, he tried to safeguard his fiefdom called BCCI and he tried to protect his son-in-law through his money and clout. But now he must go! What happens to his hen of golden eggs called Chennai Super Kings (CSK) would be the second casualty! What happens to the IPL would be the most wanted casualty. What a pity! CSK is supposed to play the final of IPL-6 against Mumbai Indians this Sunday and the corrupt Chief has already gone to Kolkata to watch the spectacle of corruption!

Bravo Mumbai Police! And of course Delhi Police! For breaking the monotony of autonomy given to a morally bankrupt Board to manage cricket in India and how it never stopped milking cricket for money, money and money…just because the game is a religion in India! For once, all politicians must come to support the police and help it remove at least the corruption in cricket.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

IPL Spot Fixing Scandal: Gurunath Meiyappan Keeps His Appointment With Mumbai Police!

Gurunath With MS Dhoni

Mumbai Police today rejected Gurunath Meiyappan’s request for an extension to appear for questioning. ‘He has to appear by 5pm today or else he will be declared a fugitive’, said a determined Mumbai Police. Big Money and Big Connections did not work for him this time. Gurunath decided to take a private plane to Mumbai and he arrived in Mumbai this evening, though a little late. At the moment he is being grilled by top cops.

Just before deciding to fly to Mumbai Gurunath reportedly met his father-in-law or the BCCI President or the CSK franchise owner or the Managing Director of India Cements that officially owns CSK. Whatever form of N Srinivasan he met things did indeed start to happen. Betting is illegal in India except for on the racecourses. Even inside a racecourse a steward and his/her relatives are not allowed to bet, because they are endowed with a lot of inside information. Therefore, even if N Srinivasan was interested in drawing a line between betting and match or session or spot fixing he or his relatives are never allowed to bet on matches, because being an insider or franchise owner or franchise official they have access to a lot of information. This creates a situation of conflict of interest even if you consider betting not as an offense. And based on this, his CSK that won the IPL three times and is to play the final this year too runs a high risk of being eliminated from the IPL. So a few things needed to happen!

India Cements disowns Gurunath instantly saying in a statement that he is neither the CSK owner nor CEO nor the Principal, and in actuality only a member of the team management. Poor Gurunath then reportedly changes his net profiles seemingly in an obsessed self-demotion drive. If Mumbai Police finally arrests Gurunath for passing crucial match information to Vindoo Dara Singh who passes it on to the bookies, it would be very interesting to see what N Srinivasan does or what happens to CSK. Maintaining his silence since the conflict of interest N Srinivasan is already under tremendous pressure to resign.

As anticipated, custody of Vindoo Dara Singh gets extended to 28th May in a local court in Mumbai today. More arrests are likely both by Delhi and Mumbai police. Another bookie was arrested in Hyderabad today.

In the meantime crowds are still thronging the stadiums to watch the last qualifiers and the eliminators before the final. You see, they are cricket freaks, and only genuine cricket lovers are devastated by the fixing eliminators before the grand finale which they fervently expect to be in their interest. Or maybe the hapless crowds did not want to lose the money on their pre-booked tickets. How could they expect to get a refund from a defunct system?  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

IPL Spot Fixing Scandal: Now The Umbilical…Sorry…The Umpiring Connection!

Whenever India does anything importantly right or wrong the Pakistan connection has to come up sooner or later. People of both countries like it or not. The Karachi based Don Dawood Ibrahim’s D-Company connection to the Indian Cricket betting racket was already established in the raging IPL Spot Fixing Scandal that grows sleazier every minute now. The unholy mix of cricketers, bookies, middlemen, BCCI and IPL franchisee officials, Bollywood stars and dons now proudly includes that of umpires too. So far the umpires have not been blamed for anything seriously harming the game except for some wrong or lousy decisions on the field. But now, Pakistan umpire Asad Rauf gets implicated thanks to arrested Bollywood actor Vindoo Dara Singh spilling the beans.

Asad Rauf has been on the elite umpiring panel of the International Cricket Council (ICC) since 2006 and was getting ready for duty in the forthcoming Championship Trophy in June. Although not exactly an umpiring blemishe, Rauf has had a scandalous controversy involving a Mumbai model in 2012. He came under the scanner of Mumbai Police after Vindoo revealed his connection to the bookies in terms of providing crucial match information from the field. This is one of the biggest blows this IPL scandal has delivered so far to cricket in India and now to Pakistan cricket lovers too.

The ICC, following the developments, promptly withdrew Asad Rauf from the elite panel thus canceling his engagements in the Champions Trophy. The ICC feels that this decision has been taken in best interests of Rauf as well as of sports.

Meanwhile, a Mumbai Police team today landed in Chennai on the trail of Gurunath Meiyappn, the son-in-law of the BCCI Chief cum CSK owner N Srinivasan and CEO of CSK franchise, following leads from Vindoo Dara Singh. Unbelievable as it seems, the police team struggled to get entry into Gurunath’s residence. Finally, he could not be traced and there was no response from him or from the BCCI Chief. Exasperated, Mumbai Police served a summons to him to appear by 5pm tomorrow for questioning. As par latest reports Gurunath has requested Mumbai Police to allow him to appear on Monday.

Now, what happens to the inquiry committee appointed by the BCCI to look into the matter of spot fixing? Would the committee be so powerful as to dare question its Chief? Silence prevails on all powerful fronts—the BCCI President is silent, the topmost cricketers are silent and all the political leaders irrespective of their parties are silent. This silence is that of big money, clout and vested interests. BCCI silent for reasons known to all, top cricketers silent for the stakes and political parties always sink their differences when it come to a common ground like big-money cricket. Therefore, in this respect how far the police investigations are going to be effective? Let us keep on hoping that Big Money is finally defeated and cricket cleaned forever. Three bookies were arrested in Mumbai today and several in Kolkata and other places making the total arrests  so far more than fifty.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

IPL Spot Fixing Scandal: Trail Leads To The Top!

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 India. Let Big Money be defeated this time. Let the investigations not fall short of cleansing Indian Cricket, permanently and irrevocably. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

IPL Scandal: Bollywood Connection To Bookies, Vindoo Dara Singh Arrested In Mumbai!

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

IPL Scandal: New Law To Check Match Fixing?

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

IPL Spot Fixing Scam Gets Bigger And BCCI Does Nothing!

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! 

IPL: The Slimy World Of Sin!

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

Politics: Corruption And Punishment!

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

Politics Of Corruption: Chaos, Scams And Gates Galore!

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 India 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!
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