Sanjay Bharadwaj, DDCA’s newly appointed director has begun an indefinite hunger strike outside the premises of Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Thursday afternoon. Bharadwaj, a former first-class cricketer from Delhi, said he was forced to take this step because of the “autocratic style” of functioning of president Rajat Sharma and the appointment of members of the Cricket Committee, all of whom have conflict-of-interest cases staked against them.
“As an appointed director of the DDCA, it pains me to see how some of these appointments are being made by Sharmaji. Some of these persons such as Virender Sehwag, Rajat Bhatia and Gautam Gambhir are players of great competence no doubt, but they all have conflict-of-interest cases as stipulated by the Supreme Court,” a disgruntled Bharadwaj said.
On the face of it, Bharadwaj’s grouse was legitimate. That’s because Sehwag, for instance, is one of the main expert commentators on India TV, a channel run by Sharma. That apart, he also runs his cricket academy in the national capital and is also involved with IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab. Sehwag’s long-time opening partner Gambhir is still an active cricketer. “How can an active player be in such a panel?” he pointed out. Others such as Rahul Sanghvi is involved with the Mumbai Indians. What’s even worse, senior selector Rajat Bhatia, who like Gambhir, is still an active player, had announced earlier this week that he will be playing for Uttarakhand in the upcoming domestic season. “It’s clearly mentioned in the Lodha recommendations that you cannot have such persons in cricket administration. So, why has he (Rajat Sharma) appointed them in the first place is beyond me,” he noted.
Bharadwaj had written to the ombudsman — Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed — on this issue last month but he is yet to receive a reply. The DDCA director explained that the reason for going on a hunger strike now was to put pressure on Rajat Sharma and see that this vexing issue is resolved before the start of the domestic season. “ I have begun a hunger strike right now because once the domestic season begins, this issue will get prolonged even further and our cricketers will suffer. I want a quick resolution on this,” he explained.