Capital shame

44JusticeMukulMudgal Pitch imperfect: Justice Mukul Mudgal (second from right) with DDCA officials at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium | Arvind Jain

Delhi Drunkards and Cards Association. This cheeky expansion of DDCA elicits sniggers among regulars at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. And why not. Over the years, the Delhi and District Cricket Association has lost credibility, mainly because of the shenanigans of its administrators.

The officials seem to be so drunk with power that the state government had to shut down the association's bar in September. Apparently, two years ago, the Outswinger resto-bar had served liquor to its members on Gandhi Jayanti.

“Tailors, drapers and small-time property dealers have become big officials in DDCA with no background in cricket,” says Kirti Azad, former cricketer and longtime critic of former DDCA president and current Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Such is its inefficiency that it formed the senior selection committee for the Delhi Ranji team a fortnight before the season’s first match. Also, the Delhi under-19 squad has 29 members because, apparently, players from every faction had to be accommodated. On the first day of practice, the Ranji bowlers were not given the standard SG balls; instead, they got a local brand called Keemti. The bowlers reportedly offered to buy the balls themselves.

Administrative issues aside, the DDCA is bankrupt—many of its accounts have been sealed. Several police cases have been filed against the association and it has not got the necessary building completion certificates from the government. “These guys are illegal squatters,” says Azad. “The DDCA has no lease, yet they have created an elephantine building worth 0400 crore. They don’t have the permission of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, electricity connection clearance, structural stability certificate, and no clearances from the Archaeological Survey of India and the Delhi Urban Arts Commission for 30 years.” Azad was shocked at how the DDCA had gotten away with provisional certificates from local government agencies 14 times.

Recently, while hearing the DDCA’s plea that it be allowed to host the upcoming Test match against South Africa, the Delhi High Court said that, while it was giving permission because it didn’t want to penalise fans or players, it would not give similar permissions in the future.

A group of former cricketers, led by Bishan Singh Bedi, met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to seek his help to cleanse the DDCA. Kejriwal acknowledged their grievances, but some brazen DDCA officials believe they won't be affected.

Said former cricketer Sameer Bahadur: “Corruption has only bloomed during 15 years of Jaitley's reign.” From ticketing scams to financial irregularities, the DDCA has apparently seen it all.

In the face of such harsh criticism, the association's oft-used defence is that Delhi continues to produce the best talent in the country. Critics, however, say that the talent has surfaced through a robust club culture, in spite of the DDCA.

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