Ganguly – the Road to Perdition or Coming of Age?

A host of articles some connected and some not- got me to think and revisit some of my earlier opinions on these and related matters.If not for anything else,it would get me to scribble some more and maybe,none the worse for it. 

Ashish Magotra has balls to show, especially, when speaking lies and fakery is almost universal.In the sacking of Manjrekar, nay, completion of engagement of contractual obligations with the BCCI for commentating with a “world-class team” he has with an almost English wit and reticence,tried calling spade a spade.With a great eye to see the invisible he interprets with an unsparing mind and rues the inevitable but inexorable descent of the corporatised BCCI into a small clique of sycophants,lackeys and yes men. Alas ! another promise gone wasted.

This journey, however,sure as hell – has a mind and design of its own -a method in the madness.It is common knowledge that BCCI was fast becoming the new Alladin’s cave of goodies where mountebanks and professional bounty hunters,cheesy management gurus,professional gamblers, two-bit bookies,failed stock-brokers and legal disasters, disguised as cricketers, were making a bee-line for the quick buck or to run plenty scams in time.Suitably,BCCI on its part, had managed to reverse the banal colonial logic,venality and greed of the “Goras” with its very native, glitzy makeover : neo-imperialistic-sport-economics of a new El Dorado where the cricketing-sun-never-sets.

The BCCI did a palace coup of sorts sometime in October last year to usher in Saurav and his new team unopposed.Giving it almost three months to settle down and set the new ball rolling as also to set the speculative forecasting to rest Pradeep came out shooting without silencers sometime in the month of January this year naming names.This was on the baffling doings of the most adorable Saurav. (Incidentally,Pradeep Magazine is a respected senior  sports writer who dares to challenge established value systems and helped match fixing to be shamed and condemned nationally).Ashish,pleasingly, continues from where he left off. He helps bringing to the notice of the cricket cognoscenti or those simply interested, after,another couple of months of how at the BCCI, business as usual is the new constant. Magotra has a job to do and a family to look after.Yet,like a small clutch of committed and brave journalists is fighting the good fight, while at it.Therefore,the individuals and institutions who are the decently-clad monsters in this evil spectacle are identified and not left to our gossipy imagination anymore than you would wish to.

If cricket had mutated and been redacted to commercial extravaganzas of IPL’s and their various clones ;Test Cricket, but, a ritualised deity to be periodically worshipped and consecrated in which the profiteers drew up its wretched Sutras, the road to perdition was, as yet ,hidden behind the smokescreen of Lodha Committee’s radical rulings to clean up the filthy stables of organised corruption in the BCCI committed through the gilded pathways of the IPL.Into this problematic comes our darling Saurav who by common understanding gave a self – confidence to Indian cricket -eminently rare. Almost arriving in the back of a match – fixing scandal and Sachin developing cold feet where leading was concerned Saurav stood tall in principle and practice to take India out of this corrupt hole.No stranger to controversy he took to cricket administration like duck to water.Blessed by Dalmia,wooed by CPI (M),encouraged by Mamata Saurav effectively held his counsel and warded off these advances while being the proverbial “Bhadralok”.He headed Cricket Association of Bengal and always looked higher and further towards Mumbai and BCCI as an ambitious man.Nominated by the Supreme Court to be in the Committee for Administrators it is instructive to remember here that he successfully teamed up with the likes of a Tendulkar and Laxman with Kumble as coach to keep Vinod Rai happy with the arrangement.Until the Kohli-Sashtri combine upstaged this rather fraternal foursome.(Remember a far-sighted or a weak balled Ramachandra Guha had fled the Cuckoo’s Nest quite early.)When a lot of seniors were crying foul at the Kumble (mis)handling including Gavaskar,the shrewd Saurav very early sensed the changing winds and decided to re-set his sails for safety first and speed next.He vigorously defended Kohli’s acts of ommission and commission both on and off the field and smartly skirted his personal differences with Sashtri as coach.In part this could be his own less patronised philosophy of captain in command always (l’affaire Greg Chappel).In time he vocally also opposed the conflict of interest issue to establish common cause with a lot of former cricketers to which he was an involved party too.
It is perhaps a matter of conjecture that he correctly surmised of the power and authority of a Dhoni or Kohli came from the political upper echelons rather than the BCCI.He must have also surmised that Vinod Rai was a limited tool with a specific agenda employed to clear certain annoying impediments or persons in the way of the renewed exercise of complete.That Cricket was very much a proven business model for money to be made was never lost upon these grab and appropriate political party in power.The palpable entry of political jingoism in the shape of an emblematic glove,camouflage caps in a Test Match and black bands worn by all test players as a token of respect on the demise of a Central Minister and former head of DDCA were confirmations of unseemly political penetrations into the very heart of this very popular game.

Ganguly watched silently all of it and perhaps was also sending enough indications of his apolitical pedigree awaiting baptism with the right party.Particularly when the new East India Company of Independent India with its HQ’S in Delhi is looking for an entry and a popular face to lead it’s charge in Bengal elections sometime next year. It was also during this subterranean turbulence, whose seismic shocks were yet to surface, the ruling party was quietly winning over most of the cricketers who enthusiastically befriended them.Perhaps, even enrolled themselves.BJP was ideologically systematic and professionally organised in its overtures made.Discreet but focussed while other parties in the past were weak-willed.

 Now the CAB President is Dalmia ‘s son and the Secretary is Snehasish Ganguly :Saurav’s elder brother.When Shah’s son was anointed as Secretary of BCCI and the former’s not so unknown connections virtually turned the tables on a Srinivasan or Patel to get Saurav elected President sourav_ganguly_ptisome just shook their heads in disbelief,very few talked of an underhand deal while most cheered away saying that the Bong had undone the historical limitations of a culture and language.

Quick on the uptake Saurav was not a one to waste time.The Apex Council which was meant to oversee the working of the BCCI and composed of five main office bearers,two player representatives,a CAG and Board nominee was swiftly reduced to a rubber stamp in the very first General Body Meeting with enough amendments brought in to the existing constitution to empower the office bearers in total disregard to the basic purpose of the Lodha Reforms.In fact,the autonomy of the Selection Committee itself stands compromised with the unwelcome presence of the Board President and Secretary.So much so it has been further debilitated with the induction of less than competent replacements from different zones. Saurav advertises and exhorts participation of the pubic in Fantasy Cricket Leagues to suggest the Final Eleven and win prizes.That he even chooses to nominate his own First Eleven unabashedly punter-like and does not believe it to be a conduit for possible gambling is quite another matter.Serious “conflict of interest” issues stands pooh-poohed by Saurav himself.Much less as a matter of law.Would it be too much to have expected a cricketer of his stature, who is likely to have had several engagements and contracts running, to have fulfilled them, before taking on the reponsibilities of the Board so as to not be exposed subsequetly to the embarassing questions raised on ethics and integrity? It is true that the conflict of interest issue being yet unresolved and kept in suspended animation has enabled many famous cricketers like Kumble, Dravid, Gavaskar,Sehwag,Laxman and even Gautam Gambhir with many others to continue wearing many hats and enjoy its attendant benefits.That Saurav continues to thrall millions of Bengalis in a popular TV serial and commentate or give expert comments in cricket matches even today, well is a tired obvious.We also see now the doubts about Saurav’s limited innings as the President also set to rest with the official extension granted through the highest Court. He is reported to be working very hard to take control of the International Cricket Committee(ICC) once again and guess who is planned to be there? Brijesh Patel ! The jury is out for the T20 World Cup money spinner, scheduled for 2021 in India, quite the challenge for Saurav and Jayant Shah for different reasons as also just the year when the former would be needed for the Bengal Elections too. 

The Bengali is generally an Indian only as an afterthought for he is that unique species undiscovered by Darwin and therefore this windfall of widespread attention is also equally special.But like everything Bengali this too comes with its fair share of contradictions.There used to be a time like most Bengalis and less cricket lovers clapped in kiddish glee when Saurav used to knock a blow or two on a Sunny Gavaskar or a Manjrekar.Even a Sashtri for they represented the authoritative might of Mumbai.It was said that a Bengali Brahman would much rather beg than do business as paraphrased from Ray’s “Jana Aranya”.Money was sin ever since the Jagat Seths invited the English and Lord Clive,bribed them,aligned with the Mir Jafars to sink one of the last bastions of resistance in Siraj-ud-dowlah -the Nawab of Bengal.And, most eerily, I recall today almost as providential what  Greg had to speak of Saurav and most disrespectfully almost a decade plus years before – that it was his greed and not competence that kept him playing cricket.Gagging and shutting off prying questions and to accommodate amenable people is the latest of his questionable virtues.Or is it the new hubris?

This ambiguity can be traced historically to a large number of Bengalis while being obedient clerks (read babus)under the English, a sizeable did not think twice about chucking a bomb or two at the same Gora Sahibs or languish in their youthful prime in the dark interiors of the Cellular jail forever.The double – faced Bengali is secretly wishing Saurav and the BJP would make a great team for Bengal while the vacillating Babu in him scares about the future of their fiery Didi.The radical Bengalis who preferred death to letting down the Cause are on vacation.Bengal and the Bengali most definitely also resides in Ganguly, too.

So will Saurav set all of this aside as idle banter and instead choose to be the quintessential Mumbaikar, professionally and commercially savvy – principles making way for flexibility?But,to say that he will withstand the definite interference and interventions of the Big Two and continue being his own man would be madly Bengali in form but seriously lacking in substance.Until then,the Bengali icon is bound to be in the crosshairs of such and more sustained critical questioning in the future.Funnily, in its answers or denouement will the reputation and character of the Janus-faced Bengali as a community is likely to be determined .

The Bengali Blight

A double whammy of sorts has perhaps caught the Bengali on the wrong foot in recent times.The Abhijit – Esther duo

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being awarded the Nobel in Economics and a much loved Saurav becoming the President of BCCI unopposed.
The Bengali is generally an Indian only as an afterthought for he is that unique species undiscovered by Darwin and therefore this windfall of worldwide attention is also equally special.But like everything Bengali this too comes with its fair share of contradictions.Abhijit is fragile cutlery to be handled with care what with his criticism of Modi Babus New India policies.This ambiguity can be traced historically to a large number of Bengalis while being obedient clerks (read babus)under the English a sizeable did not think twice about chucking a bomb or two at the same Gora Sahibs or languish in their youthful prime in the dark interiors of the Cellular jail forever.So this part of the Bengali being double – faced both a rebel and an apparitichik is it true human face to be politically correct that is .

Into this problematic comes our darling Saurav who by common understanding gave a self – confidence to Indian cricket -eminently rare. Coming on the back of a match – fixing scandal with Sachin developing cold feet where leading was concerned Saurav stood tall in principle and practice to take India out of this corrupt hole.No stranger to controversy he took to cricket administration like duck to water.Blessed by Dalmia,wooed by CPI (M),encouraged by Mamata Saurav effectively held his counsel and warded off these advances while being the proverbial “Bhadralok”.He headed Cricket Association of Bengal and always looked higher and further towards Mumbai and BCCI as an ambitious man.Nominated by the Supreme Court to be in the Committee for Administrators it is instructive to remember here that he successfully teamed up with the likes of a Tendulkar and Laxman with Kumble as coach to keep Vinod Rai happy with the arrangement.Until the Kohli-Sashtri combine upstaged this rather fraternal foursome.(Remember a far-sighted or a weak balled Ramachandra Guha had fled the Cuckoo’s Nest quite early.)When a lot of seniors were crying foul at the Kumble (mis)handling including Gavaskar,the shrewd Saurav very early sensed the changing winds and decided to re-set his sails for safety first and speed next.He vigorously defended Kohli’s acts of ommission and commission both on and off the field and smartly skirted his personal differences with Sashtri as coach.In part this could be his own less patronised philosophy of captain in command always l’affaire Greg Chapell that is.In time he vocally also opposed the conflict of interest issue to establish common cause with a lot of former cricketers to which he was an involved party too.
It is perhaps a matter of conjecture that he correctly surmised that the power and authority of a Dhoni or Kohli came from the political upper stories rather than the BCCI.He must have also surmised that Vinod Rai was a limited tool with a specific agenda employed to clear certain annoying impediments or persons in the way of the complete control of these very same superiors.That Cricket was very much a proven business model for money to be made was never lost upon these grab and appropriate political party in power.The palpable entry of political jingoism in the shape of an emblematic glove,camouflage caps in a Test Match and black bands worn by all test players as a token of respect on the demise of a Central Minister and former head of DDCA were confirmations of unseemly political penetrations into the very heart of this very popular game.Ganguly watched silently all of it and perhaps was also sending enough indications of his apolitical pedigree awaiting baptism with the right party.
This journey of cricketing politics of Saurav now culminates with a not so routine visit of his to Amit Shah a day prior to the BCCI elections.And what do we get.He becomes President and Amit Shah ‘s son become Secretary unopposed with Anurag Thakur’s brother in tow.The former heavy weights like a Shukla,Niranjan Shahor a Srinivasan very much there supervising the proceedings and make the coronation happen.
Now cut back to the essential argument of Bengali binaries and ambivalence.Like the Abhijit case being restricted to limited celebrations among the cerebral with some Right Wing sympathisers going to town on his immoral personal life – divorce and abandonment of his first love followed by a second marriage to a White French girl student while pursuing research on left -leaning subjects to denigrate a strong nationalist Indian Prime Minister the same Bengali community perhaps in larger numbers or almost unanimously see Saurav ‘s climb to the top to be in no conflict with principle or professionalism that got him there.Particularly when the new East India Company with its HQ’S in Delhi is looking for an entry and a popular face to lead it’s charge in Bengal elections sometime late next year during which period Saurav should have demitted office going by the current rules in force for BCCI.
Many who know and are not easily swayed by isolated acts had opined that Dhoni’s gloves issue was much ado about nothing.The double – faced Bengali is secretly wishing Saurav and the BJP would make a great team for Bengal while the cringing and fawning Babu in him is running scared and confused undecided on the future of their fiery Didi who till yesterday ,perhaps even still loved had liberated their dear land from the hands of the lumpen-left.The famed Revolutionaries have since become as rare as the Dacca muslin-cloth to save the Bengalis from any furher dilemmas ,thankfully.
So will Saurav set all of these conjectures aside as idle banter or will he chose to be the quintessential Mumbaikar professionally and commercially savvy for principles to make way for prudence or practicality?To say that he will withstand the definite interference and interventions of the Big Two to be his own man would be madly Bengali in substance but highly unlikely.

The Bengali will be in the crosshairs of such and more sustained and critical questioning in the future.And in its answers or denouement will the reputation and character of the janus-faced Bengali be determined.
I write as a Bengali who is disturbed by the marked ambivalence in today’s politics in Bengal in general and of an uncritical,narrow minded,chauvinistic Saurav fan following in particular.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/no-bcci-deal-sourav-ganguly-bjp-amit-shah-1609326-2019-10-14

Hamam Mein Sab Nangey Hain ! हमाम में सब नंगे हैं

I have reactions and opinions that may not hold well against cold analysis or facts. I am only privy to the many tweets, with videos, social networking site blogs which I seek to elaborate on some educated guesses having been a fan of cricket and erstwhile stars that includes Ganguly and Shastri.We are witness to recriminations and some cultured mud dabs from two of the most articulate and competent cricketers of their time.To compare their abilities would be to commit the classic folly of the orange versus apple story.

It would be fair to say that the little hullabaloo created by the Justice Mudgal’s and Justice Lodha’s investigative report has had some uncomfortable ramifications for the powers that be.In a country and a system which celebrates money and power as equivalence of Integrity the findings have been disturbing minus any other hyperbole’s.Safely however, it can be said to be another drama unfolding as an ongoing serial : Season 1 Episode ? .

That BCCI was an extension of the Mumbai monopoly to be almost a backyard owned, operated, maintained by the latter but funded by the nation and its public. An open secret, is this.. Pawar’s, Wadekars, Vengsarkars, Gavaskars and the Shastri’s were the visible law above and beyond the reach of the lesser states.The fans and tax paying public do not even exist in the strange corporate rules in vogue of a corrupt democracy.They managed at various stages to not only counter the sometimes vigorous opposition of the Delhi and Southern lobby.In fact one would stretch it to say that there was effective collaboration with the much touted Srinivasan. The fugitive Modi was its most cherished face until then.There have been palace struggles of sorts but very much in the nature of love and bitterness and subsequent falling out between thieves or lovers.Take your pick !.Many stars including Ganguly had been won over with dollops of lucrative assignments. The strategy and thinking was clear to win over possible threat areas and kick the rest.(that is those that are feeble and weak.)If you cannot beat them, Buy them !

Now the game has run its course and another chapter is set to begin with a clutch of stars and superheroes like Tendulkar, Laxman, Dravid, Ganguly and Kumble, the original Five whofab-five-300x200 had set it upon themselves to cleanse a culture of match-fixing post Azharuuddin fiasco. A set of established demagogues or demi-gods like Shastri and Gavaskar are feeling the heat of such a seasonal change.The immediate cause is the non-selection of Shastri and the mysterious one is the ghost of Chappell, too.

It appears that Shastri had been promised by BCCI while opting for the Bangladesh tour that he would be given a two year extension.Also he had emphasised the need for total freedom from the three man Council, comprising of Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly recently appointed by BCCI to oversee cricket development in India.He particularly did not want to have Ganguly interfering with his proposed extended stint of  coaching.This is rumored to have happened sometime in the second week of June in Chennai.Then, could Ganguly have recused himself? Should Shastri have been physically present for the interview and not hoildaying like an Aristotle Onassis or tanning  in some sunny beach overseas a la Capone? One gathers even Sachin was physically missing from the interview and was on video-conferencing mode like Shastri. Why does Shastri figure in all committees of the BCCI? can be interesting points of discussion.One thing is clear that all was not well between the two.Both aggressive and mavericks of a certain kind.Suffice it is for all of us, the gossip loving public( what with no real news coming out and being trapped within faux vanities and decencies of what is the ethics of civilised behavior) to be at least sure of a lot of hubris from either parties.But that would amount to only scratching the surface..

Shastri did not create a Virat or his new team. The untold story of Shastri’s role in the Australian tour fiasco and the unforeseen retirement of Dhoni from Tests may be another skeleton in the cupboard waiting to tumble out .Do we see also some interconnections in the Harsha Bhogle episode of being denied commentating and Sunny Gavaskar still managing to make selective hints on the fissures between him and Shastri through professional disagreements on cricketing issues ? Is Sunny the master Diplomat readjusting himself and creating adequate breathing space for the new dispensation on the anvil?If you are interested in some adrenalin rush or in the frisson of dark speculation then these questions could help : Where is Mr Jaitly putting his money? Is the BJP behind the new attempts of BCCI for a power change, if at all ? Is the Centre of power set to shift from Mumbai? How Is the Shiv Sena playing this and the Bollywood ? Will Virat and Dhoni be the face of the change or the new assault and shift of fulcrum of power ?What about the sponsors and advertisements on which the entire of game of cricket in India thrives? Are we seeing the beginnings of a new shift or the tremors of transition? Is the East and North together in this move?

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Conflict of interest and its manipulation by all concerned is something the fans should be watching closely to make out the real from the untrue.And only then, venture forward to contemplating final opinions on this spat. These are but tips of the many icebergs of shady deals and events.To be able to piece together these rather unrelated sparks would be to discover the hidden powder keg of shameful collusion or compromise.

Hamam Mein sab Nangey Hein !

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