Updated: July 3, 2018 10:10:51 am
Moments after the Delhi and District Cricket Association election results were announced, former India medium pacer turned cricket pundit Chetan Sharma welcomed the change at Feroz Shah Kotla by saying, “the right man is in the chair now”. He was live on India TV, the news channel owned by the newly elected president Rajat Sharma, whose panel got a clear mandate to take charge of DDCA. It was an innings defeat of sorts for his main presidential rivals — former player Madan Lal and Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh. Team Rajat Sharma won 12-0.
The election results were on the lines predicted over the weekend by Sharma’s group on several Whatapp groups. The final tally — Sharma 1521, Madan Lal 1004, Vikas Singh 232 — was very close to the figures doing the rounds on the eve of the counting day. The Sharma group quoted an exit poll survey done by them.
Cricket electioneering has never been this cut-throat. The first BCCI state unit election post-Justice Lodha reforms had the intensity and competitiveness of a high-profile mainstream political battle involving national parties. Cocktail dinner parties, entertainment evenings, radio jingles, high-spending, door-to-door campaigning and promises of post-poll perks — candidates dug deep into their pockets and walked the extra mile to woo the voters. Plus there was the subtle hint of the backing and the political muscle of the capital’s powerful king maker.
After his landslide win, Sharma spoke about bringing transparency and honesty to DDCA; a cricket body whose office-bearers — according to recent internal audit report — have been involved in unauthorised transfer and embezzlement of funds amounting to crores of rupees. “We want a transparent system and our panel has decided to work honestly. We want to give respect to cricketers. They have helped the game grow, they have given to the country whatever they can. Now, it’s our turn to pay them back,” the 61-year-old mediaman turned cricket administrator said.
The decibel level at the Kotla had hit the roof when the election results were announced at noon. Like any change of guard in the capital, this too was welcomed by marigold garlands, firecrackers and moti-choor ladoos from Delhi-6.
The day’s second-place finisher, Madan Lal, was blind to any silver-lining in his defeat. Unlike Sharma, the former India player said DDCA wasn’t a place for cricketers. “This is what will happen. I don’t think after this cricketers will come forward to run DDCA. The members don’t seem to want cricketers for whatever reason best known to them,” he was telling the media. But he hadn’t given up, not yet. “I am not going away. I will always be there to fight for the just cause in DDCA. You can always count on me for that.” After a dramatic pause, he would add, “Saath jiyenge, saath marenge.”
Among those who were left stone-faced in the room as Lal spoke was BCCI acting president CK Khanna – a long-standing DDCA official – whose wife Shashi ended up on the losing side in the vice-president’s contest. Team Madan Lal broke for lunch with a promise to meet later in the evening at the house of one of the candidates to do a post-mortem of the results.
And no poll is officially over without the allegation of ‘wrong-doing’ by the losing side. “I am just shocked at the result. How is it possible that none of our candidates won? I think there is something wrong somewhere. Yesterday the other panel was already talking about winning 12-0. How did they know?” Lal complained.
The Sharma camp had a counter. “Our rivals paid money to a group of members for caps and T-shirts with Rajat Sharma’s name on it on the polling day. This was to get him disqualified,” said member from the Sharma camp.
Later in the evening, the High Court appointed administrator Justice Vikramajit Sen, who has been in-charge at Kotla since January 2017, ceremonially handed over the reins of the DDCA to the newly-elected panel that has a ring of familiarity around it. Six of the fresh faces happen to be relatives — sons, wives or brothers — of former officials, some of whom are tainted.