Sports, I was told builds character. Politics perhaps does the opposite. From obscurity to hero worship is a journey desired by both; the Men in Blue and the Men in White. Yet in matters of trust and credibility, both lie on the opposite sides of the spectrum. Ideally, the nation should back the Men in White. Why? Well because they are handpicked by us. They are our leaders. That’s why.
No wonder then that Men in White are seen lounging in air- conditioned enclosures, schmoozing with the Men in Black, striking business deals while ostensibly admiring the Men in Blue. Perhaps a clearance for 50 hotels, perhaps a tax waiver, or maybe a seat in Rajya Sabha is not a bad deal at all. Khel khel mein…..!
So while cricket field is the Mecca where national pride is honored, Parliament has become a haunted house where national pride is trampled. When the Men in White are not scamming the nation, bickering in Parliament, or poking their noses in cricket, they indulge in the cacophony of, ‘you-did-this’ and a counter attack of, ‘so-what-you-also-did-the-same’ on television. The real issue disappears in thin air, only to return back at the time of trading charges.
There was a time when industrialists and businessmen - the Men in Black jumped in the private sector to chart their own destinies. Today they are in their own chartered flights in bed with the Men in White. Who is the seducer and who the seducee? The nexus is evident when people like Batcha and Balwa, small time entrepreneurs become millionaires overnight. It is evident when Men in Black turn up at CBI headquarters for questioning.Yet it is clear that all three, White, Black and Blue yield great power.So when you have the best of all three what do you become?....The King of Good Times.
Perhaps I am being cynical but my fear is that White and Black have blended together so well that the resultant Grey is bound to taint the Blue. Not only cricket but all other sports as well. We know what Kalmadi did to CWG and Lalit to IPL. No one knows who the real owners of IPL Kochi are and what they do!
With loads of unaccounted money pouring in the game, the politician-businessmen nexus holds an agonizingly delicious promise of endangering sport. The fact that fans who hero-worship the men in Blue were lathi-charged in Bangalore and tickets black marketed for lakhs, is an ominous sign. Corporate India flashed its glitzy wings when corporate jets created a dearth of parking space for the jets in Chandigarh.Cricket is a game for masses unlike tennis. Money is an aphrodisiac for the sport but anyone who has had an overdose of an aphrodisiac will tell you about its side-effects.
The Men in Blue have it all – fame, love, adulation and money. Willow power did what years of wheeling dealing and hobnobbing with the Men in Black couldn’t do for the Men in White. So what if politicians and businessmen are unable to rouse passions of pride, they can always jump in a sports stadium and become parasites. And then both can bleed the game to death with the help of a benevolent BCCI comprising of Men in White.
Rightfully, then that Men in Blue are revered and applauded. We don’t grudge them their millions. Only as long as they play with a spirit of honesty by crushing the Yellows and Greens, they will remain symbols of national pride.
After the euphoria of jumping with joy, let us tread cautiously. Let us tip-toe on potential minefields laid by money and pawar…oops sorry power.