New Delhi: The Delhi and District Cricket Association will soon have a new set of office-bearers, when results of the three-day elections to 12 posts are declared Thursday.
The elections were held on 25, 26 and 27 October, for the posts of president, vice-president, secretary, joint secretary, treasurer and seven directors.
Cricket politics in India generally plays out in much less spotlight than the legislatures and the panchayat system, but the contests are no less heated, especially when it comes to the association representing the national capital in the BCCI, that is the DDCA. The association has long been accused of, and pulled up for, corruption.
The most famous occupant of the DDCA chair was the late Arun Jaitley, former Union finance minister, who now has the historic Ferozeshah Kotla stadium named after him. This time around, his son Rohan Jaitley, the incumbent president, is fighting to hold on to the chair, but is facing a challenge from Vikas Singh, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and his senior in the legal profession.
Another faction is led by Siddharth Sahib Singh, brother of West Delhi BJP MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma (West Delhi) and son of former Delhi CM Sahib Singh Verma. Siddharth is contesting the secretary’s post against incumbent Vinod Tihara, who is part of Jaitley’s panel.
Both Vikas Singh and Siddharth Sahib Singh’s campaign plank is weeding out corruption.
Complicating matters in this election was the fact that political leaders from Delhi came out in support of different groups, including factions of BJP leaders backing one group or another. And not only did the candidates’ poster war stay restricted to the surroundings of the Ferozeshah Kotla, but made their way as far away as the Noida side of the Okhla barrage/Kalindi Kunj road.
BJP leaders split on whom to back, lawyers pick sides too
While Delhi BJP chief Adesh Kumar Gupta has reportedly sought support for the Rohan Jaitley panel, Vikas Singh claims he has the support of North-East Delhi BJP MP Manoj Tiwari as well as the AAP’s Raghav Chadha. Tiwari could not be reached for comment, with his office saying he was out of town, while Chadha said he would give a response but didn’t.
Former BJP MP-turned-Congress leader Kirti Azad, a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning Indian cricket team, who has been one of the most vocal anti-corruption crusaders at the DDCA and even took on Arun Jaitley when he was president, leading to his suspension and eventual exit from the BJP, said he was supporting Vikas Singh because “only a new person” could clean up the DDCA.
He called Rohan Jaitley and Siddharth Sahib Singh’s groups “chor-chor mausere bhai” and alleged that under them, DDCA would continue to run in the same corrupt manner.
Parvesh Verma and Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga have been consistently tweeting in support of Siddharth. These leaders have not hit out at Rohan Jaitley, but have not held back in attacking Tihara, who was in jail for violating GST norms and has also been charge sheeted for perpetuating age-fraud among players.
Bagga said Siddharth was a good candidate because he had played Ranji Trophy cricket for Delhi, and Tihara was “corrupt”.
“Sports and politics are different. If someone in the Rohan Jaitley panel is not honest, like Vinod Tihara, and is corrupt, then I will not support them,” Bagga told ThePrint.
He further claimed that many DDCA members in Jaitley’s close group would be voting against his camp due to Tihara’s presence on the panel.
ThePrint made multiple attempts to speak to Tihara through calls and text messages, and he kept assuring that he would respond, but didn’t.
SC Bar Association chief Singh’s entry into battle has also made the elections a lawyers-versus-lawyers battle. According to DDCA sources, out of 4,300 members, around 400 are lawyers.
Shyam Sharma, a lawyer contesting one of the director posts for the Jaitley-led panel, called the presidential election between Jaitley and Singh one “between two stalwarts — one in cricket administration and one in the legal fraternity” respectively. He added that many lawyers were not only “hugely active in campaigning”, but were also contesting the polls.
“Six people contesting the elections from Singh’s camp are lawyers (his camp fighting for all 12 seats), as are four in Jaitley’s camp,” Sharma said.
What the contenders say
Vikas Singh had contested the DDCA elections in 2018 too, but lost out to IndiaTV owner and senior journalist Rajat Sharma.
Then, last year, Rohan Jaitley was elected unopposed as president, Singh said he had “permitted” him to take the chair with the hope that he would “manage to remove the rot in the DDCA”. “However, on the contrary, Jaitley was encouraging all the corrupt people,” he told ThePrint.
Jaitley did not respond to calls and text messages made by ThePrint for this report.
Siddharth Sahib Singh, meanwhile, said he was out to “bring greater transparency in selection, which is currently ruled by nepotism”.
Siddharth, whose team is using the hashtag #CleanDDCA to promote his panel, has also received support from one of Delhi’s most prominent former cricketers, Virender Sehwag, as well as actor Parveen Dabas and pop star Yo Yo Honey Singh.
Cricket Legend @virendersehwag reached Kotla to show his support for old teammate Siddharth Sahib Singh (Ballot No. 2)#CleanDDCA #TeamSiddharthSahibSingh #DDCA #DDCAelections pic.twitter.com/b92l0i57yC
— Siddharth Sahib Singh (@siddharthsahib) October 26, 2021
Siddharth Sahib Singh
For the post of Secretary, DDCA.
Ballot No. 2
— Siddharth Sahib Singh (@siddharthsahib) October 24, 2021
Siddharth added that he wanted Rohan Jaitley to win the post of president, as he himself had a great relationship with his dad Arun Jaitley — it was due to the former Union minister that he became a member of the DDCA.
Asked about Jaitley’s choice of Tihara on his panel, Siddharth said the latter was “there when Rajat Sharma was elected president, and maybe he (Jaitley) is fielding him again to go with the flow”.
Siddharth also asserted that the DDCA should be about the well-being of cricket and cricketers, and in the elections, there should be a separate quota for former players because “we understand players’ psyche better since we have played the game”.
Who are the voters in this election?
Memberships to the DDCA can be sought by anybody; it is not a closed body. The current electorate comprises lawyers, family members of cricketers and other professionals.
DDCA sources told ThePrint that the DDCA has around 4,300 members on its rolls, out of which about 3,500 are expected to have voted for these 12 posts.
“Around 300-400 members are deceased and the member rolls have not been updated. For the past 10 years, we have had no new members,” a source said.
Kirti Azad said he had applied for DDCA membership in 2018, but has not been made a member.
Till four years ago, elections to the DDCA took place through proxy voting. Through this system, members did not have to be physically present and their votes were counted through a proxy who voted for them. But this was discontinued after 2018 as, in many cases, multiple votes were going under one person’s name.
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)