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Sight Screen

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Pawar plays

Back after that good bye post, because I forgot to round up the Cricinfo content on Pawar. Here you go: Anand Vasu does a summation of Jagmohan Dalmiya's legacy:
And it is not without good reason. Every time he has had the chance, Dalmiya has struck down his opponents with force. Where the tap-tap of a jeweller's hammer may have done the job, he brought down the construction wrecking-ball, and now he is going to find it hard to catch anyone in the opposition who will take a soft line when it comes to him. But these opponents would do well to remember that Dalmiya is not the caricature the media has made him out to be. In many ways he is India's most successful administrator, and even those that hate him must not be blind to this.
That he was unidimensional in his success - he equated it to the bottom line to the exclusion of everything else - will always be held against him. After joining the board in 1979, and slowly working his way up the ladder, Dalmiya, along with IS Bindra, fought off Doordarshan and the Telegraph Act and claimed a rights fee of US$ 40000 for the 1993 home series against England. Up until that series Doordarshan had to be paid a telecast fee. He headed the organising committee of the 1996 World Cup and sold the rights for US$ 10 million. Now, the rights for the 2003 and 2007 World Cups have been sold for a massive US$ 200 million. When he took over the ICC, the world's body had UKP16000 in its coffers. When he left the ICC had US$ 15 million, and a fresh contract worth US$ 500 million in its hands. If you're going to argue with those numbers, pause a minute and look at the state of other sports in India where penury at best and bankruptcy at worst are the norm.

Vasu, again -- this time with a report on Pawar's first media interaction after being elected:
"To develop infrastructure has become very expensive," he said. "Instead of keeping a lot of money in the bank, we have to take some decision to develop infrastructure on a regular basis. That should be done in a fair manner. Also, the existing infrastructure at Test and One-Day grounds need to be improved and raised to international standards. The board also has to consider ways in which we can support our state units."
Pawar said that it was a priority of the board to set up a media committee. "It is high time to bring professionalism in the functioning of the Board. We deal with public at large, media and sponsors. It is our responsibility to keep very good relation with this cross section... We have to take a professional approach in day to day running of the Board."

SK Sham, meanwhile, does his impression of Sharad Pawar:
It was in 2001 that a splinter group in the Mumbai Cricket Association, in order to invited Sharad Pawar to take on Ajit Wadekar, the former India Tesy captain who was responsible for achieving two of the most significant Test series triumphs for India, over the West Indies and England in 1971, in the presidential election. In the showdown between the politician and the Test player, sympathies were with the player but the votes went to the politician.
But the politician, who was busy nurturing his newly-formed party, astonished everyone by taking up all outstanding problems, which were and solved them to the satisfaction all the warring parties. He also drew up new, ambitious plans for the expansion of Mumbai cricket far beyond the boundaries of the Wankhede Stadium. The acquisition of land in the high-value Bandra-Kurla complex followed the launch of a sophisticated indoor cricket complex and club-house, with another huge stadium in the offing to cater to the needs of the growing number of cricket-lovers in the suburbs. The ambitious project, costing Rs750 million (USD16.35 approx), is expected to be completed by the middle of 2007.

BTW, it is not entirely true that Pawar never visits his constituency to campaign for himself -- he does, famously, on the last day of campaigning. He lands in Baramati the previous evening, and at crack of dawn next day, gets in his vehicle and does a breathless whistle-stop tour of an extremely vast, and very rural, constituency.
In the 1998 elections, I went to Baramati to meet the man. When I landed up at his home, he was just about to leave on his campaign tour; when I told him I wanted to cover the one-day campaign (the only instance I know of in Indian politics where a politician feels the need for just one day on the stump to ensure his own win, no matter who the opponent is or what the prevailing mood is), he suggested I hop into his Pajero -- that was at 6.30 in the morning; it was 5.30 in the evening when he was done. I was exhausted; he was just settling down to an evening of work -- after meeting with a few hundred people already lining up with all sorts of petitions in hand.
This is the story I came back with; the interview I did with him during that drive; and this story on Baramati itself, that gives you some idea why the man doesn't have to ask for votes.
And now, really and truly gone.

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