There seems to be no silver lining to the ever-darkening clouds looming over the IPL horizon. With the owner of Rajasthan Royals, Raj Kundra, now admitting to having placed bets on his own team and lost, the story of the league’s underbelly looks poised to get murkier, with the top bosses themselves falling like nine pins. With the exit, albeit temporary, of N Srinivasan, the owner of Chennai Super Kings and the former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the IPL spot-fixing case is no longer limited to the smaller fries such as the three ousted and players of the Royals and the small time actors dressing as bookies. In fact, it now appears that the kingpins themselves have been calling the shots as far as the wider reach and implications of the spot-fixing and betting rackets are concerned. Moreover, with the money trail now having been clearly linked to the notorious underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his organised crime syndicate D-company, the IPL has been established as a mammoth gambling institution that uses the national obsession with cricket and glamour to mint and launder humongous amounts of money. Whether betting should be legalised in a country in which it is as prevalent as India is a matter of a separate debate, but that cannot be the ground upon which the illegal racketeering nexus that is the Indian Premier League can be permitted to carry on undeterred and unaffected by the slew of charges against its coordinators, financers and players.
Hypocritically enough, while the police have had no qualms about slapping the grievous MCOCA against Sreesanth, who is at best the smallest cog in the giant wheel of IPL-driven sleaze, the entire country has been brought to its knees by the likes of the former BCCI boss N Srinivasan, whose bullish recalcitrance to resign in the face of confessions of betting by his own son-in-law GuruNath Meiyappan has appalled everyone. It is extremely reprehensible that Sreesanth, whose gross misconduct is surely a matter of shame, is being framed under the toughest of laws, the draconian Section 26 of MCOCA, that provides the police complete immunity and that pretty much amounts to holding the accused guilty until proven innocent. Contrarily, the investigators’ helplessness in finding substantial evidence against the bigger fries such as Meiyappan points to the sheer double standards of not only the organisers of the IPL, but also the legislators of the land. The scary prospects of the MCOCA, including assumed guilt, denial of bail, prolonged periods of detention, when pitted against the impunities enjoyed by the lords of the IPL makes us hang our heads in shame. Yet, instead of sounding the clarion call to dismantle this theatre of spectacular gambling which has reduced the actual sport of cricket to a mere eyewash, both the Indian media and the people of the nation are baying for the blood of ordinary cricketers whose transgressions are miniscule compared to those occupying the high thrones.