Delhi and District Cricket Association administrative body was at its lowest ebb in the history of the sport in the national Capital on Sunday when its first annual general meeting in 18 months was marred by brawl with some of the Apex Council member seen trading blows.
Five resolutions were passed amidst trouble and chaos. The house order was far from normal. Faction opposing the present governance led by general secretary Vinod Tihara had levelled serious allegations ranging from not serving the AGM notice as per statutes to presenting the body’s accounts for members’ approval without treasurer OP Sharma’s signatures.
The rival group was also infuriated over to the move to “change ombudsman Badar Durrez Ahmed”. Justice (Retd) Deepak Verma, a former Supreme Court of India judge, was picked to replace Justice (Retd) Ahmed. The AGM had to elect the ombudsman from among the two retired eminent jurists.
The disgraceful happenings have invoked serious criticism from eminent former cricketers Bishen Singh Bedi and Madan Lal, the 1983 World Cup champion team member. Media in unison has deplored the act. Former Delhi captain, India cricketer and Member of Parliament Gautam Gambhir in a tweeted message has urged the Board of Control for Cricket in India president Sourav Ganguly to “dissolve the Delhi Cricket (body) immediately”.
DDCA GOES “ALL OUT”…AND DDCA IS ALL OUT FOR A SHAMEFUL DUCK. Look, how handful of crooks are making mockery of an institution. I’d urge @BCCI @SGanguly99 @JayShah to dissolve @delhi_cricket immediately. Surely, sanctions or even a life ban for those involved. pic.twitter.com/yg0Z1kfux9
— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) December 29, 2019
InsideSport.co reached out to the DDCA secretary general Vinod Tihara to know why the secretary should not be held responsible for all this? What action will DDCA initiate to restore the order in the house? And why eminent cricketers are up in arms against the functioning of the apex body for the sport in the national capital? Here are the excerpts of his first reaction to the incident:
InsideSport: The Delhi cricket has been subjected to one of the most deplorable acts in the history of Indian sports. How did the things go this far that the administrative body was not able to control its own members?
Vinod Tihara: We cannot deny it was a disgraceful, shameful and unpardonable act. People behind this should be and would be brought to the book. We have called an emergent meeting to the Apex Council to deliberate on this ugly episode. There is no room for violence in any civilised body. There were people who never wanted this AGM to take place. They blocked the AGM in spite of repeated requests and reminders in the past 17 months. They had also reached out to the court for an injunction. Having failed at the legal forum, they tried to stall the proceedings forcefully. This has led to this deplorable act.
Apex Council will decide on the course of action and will appraise everyone about the decision. The (general body) meeting has been video recorded. It is for everyone to see that who started trouble and tried to stall a democratic process. I will not say anything beyond that at this point of time.
IS: What action do you consider to ensure that the DDCA and Delhi cricket are not subjected to this humiliation any further?
VT: As I told you, we have called an emergent meeting of the Apex Council. It is for the Apex Council to decide on the way to deal with the situation. It is for the committee to decide whether we need to constitute an inquiry committee, or the matter will be referred to the ombudsman. Any comment at this stage will be premature. Everybody has seen that people who had no business on the dais had jumped up and tried to attack some people.
We failed to anticipate that the people with vested interests would stoop so low to stall the AGM.
IS: There are serious allegations that the accounts were presented for general body’s approval without being signed by treasurer OP Sharma?
VT: It is equally important to know that why the books are not signed? Everyone is well aware that the DDCA is a non-profit company registered under the Company’s Act. It is statutory to maintain DDCA accounts at its Arun Jaitley Stadium headquarters at the Ferozeshah Kotla Ground. Shouldn’t honourable treasurer be questioned that why did not he come for the Apex Council meeting to check and sign the audited accounted. He like every other director was sent notice for the meeting. He was also sent a reminder. Everything is there on record.
What option did the DDCA was left with? There was no way that the account books could have been taken to the treasure?
IS: What was the need to change the ombudsman? Justice (Retd) Badar Durrez Ahmed has been an eminent jurist and a former Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court?
VT: Justice (Retd) Ahmed had completed his term as the incumbent ombudsman. We had to go to the general body to seek an extension for him. A number of members had asked that there should be options before the general body. The council approached Justice (Retd) Verma for his consent. Upon approval his name was also proposed. It is done in a transparent manner via a democratic process. Having said it, we respect Justice (Retd) Ahmed and his vision. We thank him for his contribution for the Delhi cricket.
Changing the Ombudsman was never the general secretary’s or the Apex Council’s call. Did you check with the people what problem do they have with Justice (Retd) Verma becoming the DDCA ombudsman? Isn’t it a disrespect towards a jurist who has served Indian judiciary at the highest level.
IS: Gautam Gambhir has been with you. You were in the forefront when a stand at the Arun Jaitley Stadium was named after him. Why an eminent cricketer of his stature is compelled to ask the BCCI to dissolve DDCA?
VT: We with Gautam (Gambhir) have shared common goals for the growth of the Delhi cricket. One can easily understand his concern for cricket and the DDCA. What I could not understand that Gautam has failed to realise why these people were determined to stall the AGM at any cost? He had failed to realise these people did not even complete the audit process of the accounts in spite of having so called professionals in the office with salaries worth lakhs of rupees. He failed to realised that the DDCA has been reduced to the mess by these very people in the past 16-17 months. As the efforts are being made to put the house in order, their discomfort is growing. Gambhir has made commendable contribution to the Delhi cricket. I expect him to use discretion.
IS: Why legends like Bishen Singh Bedi and Madan Lal are opposing you?
VT: They are legends. We as Delhi’ites take pride in their contribution to the game. I will request them to share their concerns with the governing body. We are trying to enforce things for betterment of the sport and sportspersons. Mr Rajat Sharma had resigned a month ago. Ever since, the Delhi teams in the Under-19, Under-23, and the Ranji Trophy matches have either scored outright wins or won points on the first innings lead. I will request these legends to please recognise the gains from the changes we are trying to make.
What had happened yesterday is shameful. No criticism will be enough to deplore this act. Having said it, I will say that these legends are ignoring the gains we have made on the field. Their contribution and guidance will always be welcome.
I will not like to talk about the other former Delhi cricketer-turned politician, who filled with arrogance and greed is nothing more than a rolling stone. His contribution to the Delhi cricket has been zero except for creating nuisance and disorder. He had problems even with Late Arun Jaitley Ji.
IS: There are serious allegations that interests in the DDCA are limited to election, selection and construction?
VT: (Laughs). Election is a democratic process. No more proxies which have seen people occupying the DDCA offices for decades. About selection I will only talk about the past one month. The new selection panel has former first class cricketers, who are appointed by the Cricket Advisory Committee as per the BCCI constitution and Lodha Committee recommendations. There have been issues about a particular member in the CAC. He too has been removed and we have approached one of the Delhi cricket greats Maninder Singh for his services as a CAC member.
Now comes the construction. Where is the construction happening in the DDCA? The stadium and the best cricket facilities at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground were created when Ji was the DDCA president. This is an unmatchable gift for the Delhi cricket from the body’s former president. My head hangs in shame if people raise such questions.
Furthermore, I thank Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra who worked tirelessly and devoted his precious time and was available 24×7 to realise Jaitley Ji’s dream of creating one of the best cricket stadiums in the country. Dr Batra has been an unparalleled sports lover and sports administrator in the country. See his contribution for the Indian and world hockey. The Indian Olympic Association’s president has a global recognition as a sports administrator. We learn from him every day to develop sports in a transparent manner. Indian sports need selfless, committed administrators like him.
IS: There are allegations that you have been hanging around in the DDCA and don’t want to leave the body. Why?
VT: I have never been a DDCA office-bearer before being elected the secretary general in June 2018. Before that I have only been the head of the sports committee, which is only an advisory body. Even for the DDCA meetings I was just an invitee with no vote.
Effectively, I am in a DDCA office for less than two months as for the period between my election and Mr Sharma’s resignation I was never allowed to deliver my duties. Do you think I can overstay in a cricket administrative body even for a day in defiance of the Lodha Committee recommendations and the Supreme Court orders.
Let the Apex Council meet today. We will share the outcome with all.