Azad seeks transparency in IPL functioning
Azad said the IPL has unfolded like the script of a Bollywood movie, where the latest series of incidents have only added more drama to the T20 league.
Spot-fixing by five uncapped domestic cricketers, Bollywood star and Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner Shah Rukh Khan`s spat with the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) officials and molestation charges against Royal Challengers Bangalore player Luke Pomersbach hit the IPL last week as the tournament reached the last stage of league fixtures.
"The incidents that have taken place in the past few days, as a cricketer and an avid lover of the game, I feel ashamed of myself. My fight is not against any individual but against the system and the various ills plaguing the IPL," said Azad, who sat on a hunger strike outside the Feroz Shah Kotla ground here.
"Since the league is popular among the people, there should be accountability, discipline and transparency in its functioning, especially since there were allegations of molestation by an American woman against a foreign player, a sting operation by a channel showing the involvement of domestic players in spot-fixing and the source of money that fuels the IPL.
"IPL is like cinema where you`ll find everything — hero, heroine, villain, vamp, black-money, action, molestation, rape, match-fixing. Greed, lust for money, sleaze has taken over cricket and that is the one thing I am fighting against," said Azad, who is also a BJP leader.
While addressing the gathering, Azad demanded that the BCCI should come under the RTI. "IPL, I suppose is only entertainment but we have money laundering, we have violation of foreign exchange, we have molestation case, we have one international Indian player slapping another Indian player, there was a sting operation for spot fixing. In that slapping case, you banned the player but you should have imposed a life-ban on him," Azad said.
"Where does the money that fuels the IPL comes from…tax havens like Mauritius, Seychelles etc….How is money being paid to cricketers over and above their legally contracted price? There needs to be transparency in the dealings of BCCI, and they should now come under the ambit of RTI.
"Why there is a conflict of interest in the running of the league? Why should the IPL bosses be involved with franchisees? Why should there be separate rules for icon cricketers?" he asked.
Another former cricketer, Vivek Razdan was also present at the venue while Bishen Singh Bedi could not make it to the hunger strike due to some family commitments.
"Bishen bhai spoke to me this morning and said he has some family engagements. He is with me in my fight and will join the strike later today," Azad informed the gathering.
There were a handful of supporters present at the venue including some DDCA officials, Azad`s close friends and yoga guru Baba Ramdev`s followers.
Talking about the incident involving the MCA officials and Shah Rukh Khan, Azad said, "Somebody got drunk and went into the cricket ground where nobody is allowed to go after a match. This is a mix of intoxication and entertainment."
Azad said the BCCI should have taken a lead from the incident involving the three Pakistani cricketers, who were jailed for spot-fixing by the London Crown court.
"Look at England, three Pakistani cricketers were sentenced to jail. In India, whenever something happens, BCCI officials quickly gang up, and start rubbishing the allegations. In the case of five uncapped cricketers, they were merely suspended by the BCCI and were not handed over to the police," he said.
The Indian players were suspended by the Board when a sting operation by India TV implicated them in spot-fixing.
He also informed that the last two matches of the IPL in Delhi were played without a Disaster Management cover. "The fact of the matter is that the stadium is lying incomplete for the last several years. Laws have been thrown to the wind leaving the fate and security of 45,000 people at the mercy of divine help."
He said the romance attached with this game was on the decline. "I have no issues when people say they like IPL. Even 10-10 format or even a toss-toss will also work with me. But what about transparency and accountability in the IPL. What was the need of bringing glamour into a gentleman`s game and making it more of an entertainment?"