New Delhi: Former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi on Monday minced no words in excoriating Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over the alleged financial irregularities in the Delhi and Disctrict Cricket Association (DDCA), alleging that under the BJP leader’s tenure from 1999 to 2013 corruption in the cricket body grew manifold.
“Absolutely! Let me spell it out explicitly – the corruption in DDCA was because of Jaitley’s connivance,” Bedi alleged in an interview with Scroll.
Bedi said documents were obtained under the Right to Information Act and it was quite self-explanatory how corruption grew, while pointed out a few charges against DDCA.
The Indian spinning great said the contract for the reconstruction of the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium was awarded by DDCA to the Engineers Projects India Limited, a public sector undertaking, on May 12, 2003. It was supposed to have been completed in a year at a cost of Rs 24 crore. Subsequently, DDCA expanded the civil work to include construction of corporate boxes. The reconstruction was said to have been completed by December 15, 2008, at a revised cost of Rs 57 crore.
However, Bedi alleged, DDCA officials went on a contract-awarding spree – for supposedly more “civil work”, electric work, interiors and installing of generators. DDCA documents show that an amount of Rs 114 crore was spent on building the stadium till 2012. It was, however, alleged that another Rs 25 crore was spent between 2012 and 2015 on paying companies which had done little or no work.
“The question is: How did a stadium, envisaged to be built at a cost of Rs 24 crore, ended up costing Rs 140 crore?”
He further alleged that one of the companies which bagged lucrative contracts was Kaushnik Buildcast Private Ltd and a related entity, Kaushnik Fab. Both were given contracts worth Rs 11 crore for “data cabling” and “interior work”! Documents revealed that Kaushnik Buildcast Pvt Ltd was incorporated as a company on June 29, 2009 – that is, a good six months after DDCA officially declared that work on the stadium had been completed by Dec 15, 2008. Then again, Kaushnik Buildcast Pvt Ltd turned out to be a front company with a fake address. Contracts were awarded without calling for competing bids.
“The various inquiry reports have a plethora of information which suggests a web of financial transactions involving sham companies with fake names and even fake addresses. There are allegations of round-tripping, of contracts being awarded without tender, for work which allegedly did not work. Apart from these charges of fraud in the reconstruction of Feroz Shah Kotla stadium, nepotism in selection and corruption in DDCA had always been there.”
He rubbished Jaitley’s claim that he wasn’t involved in day-to-day functioning of the DDCA.
“Well, if he says he wasn’t involved, then he should tell us who was involved. Assume you are the boss of a media organisation. Can you claim you don’t know what kind of activities four-five journalists under you are involved in? The blame lies on you.”
“Absolutely! Let me spell it out explicitly – the corruption in DDCA was because of Jaitley’s connivance,” he said, adding that nepotism in selection of players was also rampant.
“There were plenty of examples of overage boys playing in Under-14 or Under-19 teams.”
When asked if people could get into a junior team by paying officials, he said, “Absolutely. Why do you think Nikhil Chopra resigned as chairman of junior cricket, and so did Sunil Valson?”
Be said he wrote as many as 200 letters to Jaitley complaining about the functioning of DDCA but the BJP leader never replied.
“In fact, last July, I wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I didn’t receive any reply.”
When asked what did Jaitley gain from allowing DDCA to become a cesspool of corruption, his reply was categorical.
“Tell me, what hasn’t he gained from it? On Thursday, December 18, he said he was president of DDCA till 2013. But even today, not a leaf stirs in DDCA without his permission, not even in BCCI. Who do you think has appointed Rajeev Shukla as chairman of the IPL [Indian Premier League] governing council? Do you know who are among the directors of Hockey India? The answer: Rajeev Shukla, Arun Jaitley and Narinder Batra. Could you tell me why? If there is nothing to gain from all this, then why do they indulge in so much of manipulation?”
Bedi said now the way the CBI raid was conducted (on Kejriwal’s Principal Secretary), Jaitley has ended up axing his own foot.
“It has backfired on him. I find it funny. But it was waiting to happen. The mess in cricket is simply enormous. This is happening in Delhi, mind you. Imagine what is happening in Hyderabad, Goa and such other places. The BCCI is registered under the Societies Act, but its affiliates – Punjab Cricket Association, Himachal Cricket Association, Haryana Cricket Association – are registered as companies.”
He specifically mentioned about a toilet in Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on which Rs 4.5 crore was allegedly spent.
“You should see it. The whole bloody place stinks. In his blog Arun Jaitely has written that the Commonwealth stadium was constructed for Rs 900 crore. Well, I’d want to tell him that the person (Suresh Kalmadi) who was responsible for constructing the stadium has many cases pending against him.”
Bedi said the way forward was to abolish “this company called DDCA”.
“It has to be registered under the Societies Act. You have to introduce secret ballot voting by the members or the clubs. They do it in Karnataka, Mumbai and Tamil Nadu. It is not that people don’t perpetuate their rule there. But they do care about cricket.”
He said he was was grateful to Kejriwal and company for their efforts in this regard.
“If the nation today has sat up and taken notice, it is only because Kejriwal has jumped into the fray… It has never happened before that the chief minister of Delhi would get so involved in finding out the happenings in DDCA.” (Image: Newstracklive)