Bishan Bedi’s Issue With Arun Jaitley’s Statue Is Not Entirely Unjustified
Bishan Singh Bedi, the ex Left Arm Spinner who played for India between 1966-79 and took 266 test wickets has questioned the erection of Arun Jaitley’s statue at Arun Jaitley stadium in Delhi. This is his letter to Rohan Jaitley, DDCA Chairman. He is the son of Arun Jaitley.
I write this letter with a heavy heart & a deep sense of embarrassment. I’m old enough to know that one doesn’t talk ill of the dead. And I hope you are also old enough to be in the know of my personal relationship with Late Arun Jaitley was never quite on the same page.
Let’s say we weren’t really cricketing buddies when he was the President of DDCA. My reservations about the choice of people he handpicked to run the day to day affairs of DDCA is well known. I remember walking out from a meeting at his residence when he was unable to throw out a rowdy element using terribly foul language. I think I was too headstrong … too old school … & too proud an Indian cricketer to be co-opted into the corrupt darbar of sycophants Arun Jaitley mustered at the Kotla during his stewardship.
It pains me no end to point out the far from flattering facts about DDCA’s unsavoury past, but trust me it has a context. I was not raised to carry on the fight to the next generation. But I was also taught that if I firmly believe in taking a stand I must stick with it.
But sadly this is how it has unfolded. Keep in mind, these are the ills of nepotism-you get blamed for decisions you weren’t part of and you can’t even give the excuse of absence. As I observe now even in your leadership DDCA’s court culture of fawning obeisance continues.
After the Feroze Shah Kotla was named hurriedly & most undeservingly after Late Arun Jaitley my reaction then was maybe somehow good sense might prevail to keep Kotla sacrosanct. How wrong I was.
Now I gather a statue of Late Arun Jaitley is going to be installed at the Kotla. I’m not at all enamoured with the thought of a statue of Arun Jaitley coming up at Kotla. I pride myself as a man of immense tolerance & patience … but all that I’m afraid is running out. DDCA has truly tested me & forced me to take this drastic action. So, Mr President, I request you to remove my name from the stand named after me with immediate effect.
Also, I hereby renounce my DDCA membership. I’ve taken this decision with sufficient deliberations. I’m not prone to disregard the honour that was bestowed upon me. My gratitude to Justice Sen & the Committee of M/s Dr ND Puri, Dr Ravi Chaturvedi, Vijay Lokapally & Neeru Bhatia … all people of social & professional eminence, who extended the warm gesture to Mohinder Amarnath & me, will never fade.
But as we all know with honour comes responsibility. They feted me for the total respect & integrity with which I played the game. And now I’m returning the honour just to assure them all that four decades after my retirement, I still retain those values.
A mere Google search would have helped to know that Late Arun Jaitley’s tenure at DDCA was riddled with corruption. You being a lawyer should also know the cases of massive misappropriation of funds are still pending in courts. Late Arun Jaitley I’m told was an able politician. So its the parliament & not a cricket stadium which needs to remember him for posterity.
He might have been a good cricket fan too, but his diligence with cricket administration was dubious & left much to desire. This is not a rhetorical assessment but a factual appraisal of his time at DDCA.
Take my word, failures don’t need to be celebrated with plaques & busts. They need to be forgotten. Mr President if ever you get to travel to the cricket stadiums around the world you will find how aesthetically challenged Kotla is and how it lacks the grandeur of a Test Centre. You need to be educated that sports administrators don’t need to be self-serving. People who surround you presently will never inform you that it’s WG Grace at Lord’s…Sir Jack Hobbs at the Oval…Sir Donald Bradman at the SCG…Sir Garfield Sobers at Barbados & Shane Warne of recent vintage at the MCG…who adorn their cricket stadia with the Spirit of Cricket never out of place..so when the kids walk into these stadiums these majestic statues/busts enhance & enliven the inspiring stories of these past heroes that their elders tell them. Sporting arenas need sporting role models.
The place of the administrators is in their glass cabins. Since DDCA doesn’t understand this Universal cricket culture, I need to walk out of it. I can’t be part of a stadium which has got its priorities so grossly wrong & where administrators get precedence over the cricketers.
Please bring down my name from the stand with immediate effect. You needn’t worry about me or my legacy. God Almighty has been very kind to me to keep me alive with my cricketing convictions. I don’t wish my strength of character to be maligned by my silence or association with this unsporting act.
Bedi raises some very serious questions in his letter, but this line hits home the most.
“so when the kids walk into these stadiums these majestic statues/busts enhance & enliven the inspiring stories of these past heroes that their elders tell them. Sporting arenas need sporting role models.”
Every sports arena in the world, be it a football stadium, f1 track, or tennis court, has statues of sportspersons associated with the respective sport. Nowhere do we see statues of politicians who have never played the sport erected in front of the stadium. India however makes a mockery of the sports culture by letting politicians cheep around it. Currently, Jay Shah, the son of Amit Shah is the secretary of the BCCI. Similarly, Rohan Jaitley, son of Arun Jaitley is the president of DDCA. These two are a slap on the faces of BJP supporters who say, that BJP is against dynastic parties.
These two have not come anywhere near playing domestic cricket for India, yet here they are sitting at the porch making decisions for people who have only cricket on their mind since they were kids. Certainly, Sehwag, Kohli, Gambhir, and many others deserve a place before Arun Jaitley at the DDCA for giving more to the game.
The constant craving of the administrators to drive themselves to the front to the detriment of the tradition of the game is truly pitiful.