Former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi has written to Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) president Rohan Jaitley, asking for the removal of his name from a stand at the Feroz Shah Kotla after coming to know about plans to install a statue of Rohan’s father and former head of the state association, Arun Jaitley, at the stadium.
Bedi and Jaitley were often at loggerheads during the latter’s lifetime with the legendary spinner alleging corruption and misappropriation of funds during his tenure at the helm of DDCA.
“After the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium was named hurriedly and most undeservingly after Late Arun Jaitley, my reaction then was maybe somehow good sense might prevail to keep Kotla sacrosanct. How wrong I was. I now gather a statue of Late Arun Jaitley is going to be installed at the Kotla. I pride myself as a man of immense tolerance and patience but DDCA has truly tested me and forced me to take this drastic action,” Bedi wrote.
“So Mr President, I request you to remove my name from the stand that was named after me with immediate effect. I also hereby renounce my DDCA membership… A mere google search would have helped to know that Late Arun Jaitley’s tenure at DDCA was riddled with corruption. He might have been a good cricket fan too, but his dalliance with cricket administration was dubious and left much to be desired. This is not a rhetorical assessment but a factual appraisal of his time at DDCA. Take my word, failures don’t need to be celebrated with plaques & busts. They need to be forgotten.”
Two stands at the Kotla were named after Bedi and Mohinder Amarnath in 2017 to recognise their contribution to Indian, and Delhi, cricket.
Taking a shot at the “DDCA’s court culture of fawning obeisance”, Bedi described himself as “too headstrong … too Old school … & too proud an Indian cricketer to be co-opted into the corrupt darbar of sycophants Arun Jaitley mustered at the Kotla during his stewardship…
While stressing that it wasn’t his intention to talk ill of the dead, Bedi said he had to stick to his principles. “I was not raised to carry on a fight to the next generation but then I was also taught, and I firmly believe, to stick to the stand I take,” Bedi wrote.
The former India skipper also had a word of advice for present DDCA president Rohan. “These are the ills of nepotism – you get blamed for decisions you weren’t part of and you can’t even give the excuse of absence.”
Confirming to The Indian Express that there were plans to install a statue of his father at Kotla, DDCA president Rohan said, “That is something which (Bedi is doing) according to his will. I can’t stop something (him). Right now, there is a proposal in the pipeline (for the statue) that other board members have taken. And whenever there is an appropriate announcement to be made, we will make it. I have not been a signatory to the resolution of this nature because it is a conflict also.”
In his letter, Bedi pointed out that in almost every great cricket venue around the world, it’s eminent players who are honoured with statues, busts and stands named after them.
“It’s WG Grace and not some former president whose statue is at Lord’s. There’s also Sir Garry Sobers at Barbados and Sir Don Bradman at SCG, Shane Warne at MCG. The list is endless. So when kids walk to these stadiums, these majestic statues enhance and enliven the inspiring stories of these past heroes that their elders tell them. Sporting arenas need sporting role models. The place of administrators is only in their glass cabins,” Bedi said.
He said the culture at the DDCA has left him with no option but to sever his ties with the association. “Since DDCA doesn’t understand this universal sporting culture, I need to walk out of it. I can’t be part of the stadium that has got its priorities so wrong and where administrators get precedence over the cricketers. Please bring down my name from the stand with immediate effect… I don’t want my legacy to be maligned by my silence or association to this unsporting act,” he added.