Former president, Raj Singh Dungarpur, and the long-time-in-waiting vice-president Kamal Morarka, put the spokes in the wheel, just when almost all the thirty affiliated units of the BCCI were decided on meting out the most stringent of punishment to the players, named not only by the CBI, but also their own-appointed Special Commissioner.
Raj Singh does not hold any post in the BCCI, except nurturing his pet project, the National Cricket Academy. Despite all that has happened in the last six months, from the Delhi Police expose, to the King's Commission in South Africa, the CBI investigation and Income Tax raids, Dungarpur still wanted to give Mohammed Azharuddin a clean chit.
The former president's remarks "I would rather trust the word of Azharuddin than that of a bookie," made him out to be more of a devil's advocate than a man who was expected to cleanse the administration, as much as the game itself. He immediately forgot that the biggest lid-off on the controversy had come through the revelation of a Delhi bookmaker. It was on the basis of the confessions of book-maker Sanjeev Chawla that Hansie Cronje was disgraced, condemned and banned from the game for life.
It was during the King Commission hearing in South Africa that Hansie Cronje mentioned Mohammad Azharuddin's name. The rest is all history by now. The detailed investigation by the CBI and the findings of the raids conducted by the tax authorities more than confirmed what Cronje had said. Howevermuch he may now deny, it is on record that Azharuddin had himself confessed to a few cases of match-fixing.
The most distressing counter to any argument is to use insulting remarks. People resort to this banal approach when they lack logical sense. Kamal Morarka, instead of talking about the cricketers named in the report, has instead called the CBI corrupt.
By the same token, the BCCI-appointed Special Commissioner K Madhavan too is corrupt. For, after all, did he not, while acting on behalf of the BCCI, accept the entire findings of the present CBI investigation valid enough for him to compile his own report ?
Will Raj Singh also not believe the very man appointed by the BCCI to get another opinion on the CBI findings, or will he continue to trust Azharuddin's proclaimed innocence more?
Some of the top CBI officials must be grinning secretly on the derogatory remarks made by Morarka. That is because they are seized of the investigation of a case against the BCCI and their former secretary and ex-ICC president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, on an alleged fraud involved in the TV deals. Once that investigation is complete, then it might, perhaps, be the turn of the CBI to return the "compliments" to Mr. Morarka and others in the BCCI.
One is, however, not amazed at the stand taken by Raj Singh Dungarpur in defence of the cricketers named in the report. It was the very same stand that he had taken three years ago that had led to the Chandrachud Commission's inability to get to the bottom of the truth of the match-fixing allegations that were then wildly flying.
It was not that the BCCI had on their own opted for a CBI inquiry. They were forced to accept it, when ordered by the then Sports Minister, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. The BCCI were under tremendous pressure when the Delhi Police had made the big exposure about the shady deals of Hansie Cronje with Indian bookmakers, in April last. With their own credibility shaken, they had reluctantly agreed to a CBI inquiry and had agreed to co-operate, "in every possible way," as the BCCI president had then said.
What the BCCI actually did was to criticise the entire exercise undertaken by the CBI. In fact a resolution had been drafted at the Special AGM at Calcutta the other day, condemning the CBI in the most unequivocal terms. But it was held back on the advice of saner elements who cautioned that such a resolution would misfire because "our whole organisation is rotten from top to bottom," as one highly-respected member bluntly put it.
While some of the top BCCI officials continue to live in a fools' paradise where match-fixing is no more than a myth, a couple of highly-placed politicians, in fact key Ministers in the Union Cabinet, are hunting with the fox and running with the hare.
The Sports ministry maintains the stand that it will contemplate the severest punishment against the cricketers who have been named, including withdrawal of the state awards and honours. Like her predecessor, Uma Bharati said that any action would be taken only after consultation with the other ministries. Her colleagues in the Cabinet, however, are going to any lengths to bail out both Ajay Jadeja and Azharuddin.
There the matter rests. Even as an anguished, cricket-crazy nation awaits the fair name of the game being restored, the BCCI and some top politicians are not helping matters any. Their vested interests reign supreme. They might as well say "To hell with cricket. Who cares ?"