Time BCCI answered to India, says Gill


New Delhi: Indicating his ministry’s intention to take a more active role in regulating cricket in the country, Sports Minister M.S. Gill said Thursday that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should answer questions posed to it regarding corruption in the IPL franchises.

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“It is time it (BCCI) answered to India,” Gill said in his reply to the debate on the working of the ministry of youth affairs and sports in the Rajya Sabha.

Referring to the controversy surrounding finances of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Gill said the league was a creation of the BCCI.

“The ministry has to lose its passivity vis-à-vis cricket,” he said.

“Long before I came, it (BCCI) got suddenly rich and big, and in face of passivity of the ministry, it has taken over everything to do with cricket,” he said.

The minister asserted there was question of conflict of interest for people working in the BCCI and the IPL and cited instance of a selector who, he said, was also a brand ambassador for an IPL team.

“You can’t be regulator, controller, owner of the team you are creating,” he said.

Gill seemed to agree with the suggestion of some members that the government should get a portion of the IPL profits.

He said state governments were giving tax concessions to the IPL and were providing police security for the matches. “You have to charge from people benefiting commercially,” he said.

He also said that liquor and sports do not go together and cited the instance of the European Football League where drinking was banned near the stadiums.

To the demand of members to regulate sport associations, Gill said he had already told these organisations that they should have clean, clear, acceptable voters lists, an independent returning officer and secret ballot.

Stressing compulsory play-period in schools, he said the current Indian policy on education was hostile to sports.

Earlier, members cutting across party lines demanded transparency and accountability in functioning of the IPL. The Shiv Sena demanded a CBI probe into the role of IPL commissioner Lalit Modi.

Congress member Jayanti Natarjan, who initiated the debate, termed the IPL as an “example of crony capitalism” and the “worst example of corporate governance”.

“There is a desperate need to salvage its (IPL) reputation,” she said

“The entire budget of the government’s panchayat ‘yuva khel krida abhiyan’ (panchayat youth sports campaign) for five years is equivalent to the amount paid by a franchise of the IPL. IPL will make a handful of people rich, grab headlines but the rural sports programme of the government will hardly get reported in the media,” she added.

Natarajan said that both should “coexist” but “we should get our priorities straight”.

She added that since the IPL gets lots of concessions from the government, there should be accountability and transparency in its functioning, especially since “there were suggestions of multi-layered interests and hints at nexus with people who have conflict of interests.”

BJP’s Prakash Javadekar said people must know of the entire shareholding of the IPL franchises, and also took a dig at Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel over his office staff’s alleged involvement in the IPL team bidding valuation process.

“Valuation of Indian Airlines and Air India was not done properly,” he said alleging that the minister was instead “taking interest in the valuation process of IPL bids”.

“IPL has become a global brand and players are also earning money through it but there should be transparency about its organisation structure,” Javadekar said, urging Sports Minister M.S. Gill to exercise his authority and bring about accountability and transparency in the IPL.

Shiv Sena member Manohar Joshi said that the IPL should be banned for some years and demanded a CBI probe into the role of Modi.

“He has earned crores of rupees. There should be CBI inquiry against him,” he said.

Joshi said that Modi should be told to reveal names of all those who had invested in the IPL.