The Indian cricket board is finally waking up to the problem of conflict of interest that has immensely hurt their reputation in the recent times. In a wake up call post Lodha Committee’s verdict on IPL scandal and in particular the panel’s questioning of conflict of interest, the BCCI has written to all its associations to fill up ‘no-conflict-of-interest’ undertaking. The board also plans to get the Indian players to sign up.
In a two-page letter that has ‘conflict of interest” as its subject, the BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur makes a direct appeal to the associations to submit the declaration form and “protect the reputation and institutional integrity so as to earn broad trust, faith and confidence in all our activities”.
In the letter accessed by The Indian Express, Thakur, the BJP parliamentarian, writes: “As you are aware, the above mentioned subject (conflict of interest) has caused enough consternation in our organisation and has led to situations which we need to collectively address and avoid, for the future to come.”
Thakur writes that as the Indian board needs”to prove to the world at large that we are professionally managing our respective associations, we need to be equipped to respond with clarity”.He adds, “Thus, in order to ensure that no individual associated with any decision making process relating to or arising out of any events in which BCCI is involved or that is organised by or held under the aegis of the BCCI or any of its affiliated association tends to conflicts with any personal interest, directly or indirectly or which may tend to give a reasonable apprehension of ‘bias’, it has been necessary and incumbent to execute a ‘Declaration’ in the form attached hereto, so that we place on record our stated position.”
The ‘conflict of interest’ issue has been haunting BCCI for the past several years. It all began with the former president N Srinivasan buying a IPL team Chennai Super Kings for his organisation India Cements. It wasn’t just the administrators but also the players who came under the scanner. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was accused of having a stake in Rhiti Sports and his role as vice president of India Cements too came under the public glare during the IPL crisis. It also engulfed former players; under Srinivasan’s tenure the former captain K Srikkanth was chairman of selection committee as well as ambassador of CSK and his twin roles were seen as conflicting in nature.
On Friday, the incumbent BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya told The Indian Express that Indian board will set the rules for the administrators in the first phase and that the players will come next.
“The honourable Supreme Court raised the issue and setting the guidelines (and implementing them) to ensure that the office bearers in the BCCI and state associations don’t have any conflict of interest has become the need of the hour. We’ve set the rules for the administrators in the first phase, players will come next,” Dalmiya said.
In his brief tenure as interim president two years ago when Srinivasan had stepped aside after IPL spot fixing scandal, Dalmiya had drawn a 12-point programme to clean up cricket but it was shelved after Srinivasan’s return to power.
“Two years ago, when I was the interim head of the BCCI, I had drawn up a 12-point programme to clean-up cricket which included the conflict of interest issue for the players. I saw that several players had off-the-field ventures. I also wanted the players’ agents to be accredited to the BCCI. Somehow those clauses hadn’t been put into effect,” the BCCI president explains.
Dalmiya had recalled how as far back as February 2005, he had proposed in the BCCI working committee meeting at Taj Palace hotel in Delhi that no office bearer should have any conflict of interest – financial or otherwise – as long as they’re serving the cricket board. “Most of the members had agreed to that. After that I had left the BCCI. Now that I’ve returned to take charge again, I want to implement it,” the veteran administrator added.
Meanwhile, in the official letter, Thakur detailed out the nature of conflict of interest. “Conflict of interest is not about beliefs or biases. It is about a person’s roles and relationship, and the tendency or apprehension of bias that assumes to exist when duties, decisions or action conflicts. Deciding that someone has a conflict of interest is a description of a situation, not a judgment about that person or her actual beliefs.”