Former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi has asked the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) to remove his name from the spectators' stand at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium, his home ground in domestic cricket, while also renouncing his membership with the association. In an email to the DDCA, Bedi said his decision was in response to news that the association had decided to erect a statue of Arun Jaitley, the former president of the association, at the stadium, which was renamed after him following his death last year.
Bedi, after whom the stand at the venue was named in 2017, referred to what he called the "unsavoury past" and nepotism of Jaitley's 14-year reign as DDCA president as the reason for his decision.
Here's the full text of the email, written by Bedi to Rohan Jaitley, Arun Jaitley's son and the new president of the DDCA, on December 22.
I write this letter with a heavy heart & 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 hand picked to run the day to day affairs of DDCA is well known. I remember walking out from a meeting at his residence whence he was unable to throw out a rowdy element using terribly foul language. I think I was too head strong..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 & myself..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 dalliance with cricket administration was dubious & left much to desired. 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 to this unsporting act.
Shamya Dasgupta is senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo