Former cricketer Sandeep Patil said he never called for politics and politicians to be kept out of sports administration, ahead of Mumbai Cricket Association elections.
Sandeep Patil believes that experience of having been an administrator in the past will come in handy. (Photo: PTI)
By Sahil Joshi: Former India cricketer Sandeep Patil, in an exclusive interview to India Today, spoke about the contest for the post of Mumbai Cricket Association president and said he never called for politics to be kept out of sports administration.
“I have never said keep the politicians or politics out of it. We are surely going to need the help of the state government,” Patil said on the eve of cricket association polls.
The former world cup winning cricketer is up against Amol Kale, who is backed by newly-elected BCCI treasurer Ashish Shelar and Sharad Pawar and has the support of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q: To fight for the post of president, how and why did you decide to contest? People could never believe that a former player would get into the politics of it and go and contest on the panel or get into governing the sport. What prompted you to get involved?
A: Three years ago, during the elections [to Mumbai cricket association], I was the candidate for the president’s post but there was a conflict of interest clause. Conflict of interest because I was engaged with a news channel. It can be conflict of interest if you are a BCCI member or working with them in any capacity. I will try not to repeat the same mistake again. Having experience isn’t optional. I have experience.
These are all my friends. Sharad Pawar, Milind Narvekar, Ashish Shelar, Jitendra Awhad, my younger brothers Uddhav Thackeray and Raj Thackeray all have united this time, so it is to improve the future of Mumbai cricket. We will know soon who will win the elections. But I have only one request. As they say in cricket, may the best man/candidate win.
Q: I have asked politicians why they are getting involved in this as they already have Maharashtra politics to handle. They say that they can be administrators and handle the bigger finances. Some cricketers say that politicians get involved because of the money factor. What promises (manifesto) would you make for Mumbai cricket so that people vote for you?
A: Everyone has a right and people’s views and their opinions differ. What politicians can do or have done so far, that they only know. What I can do or have to offer is that I have experience. That is of a lot of importance.
During my time at NCA, I ensured that the needs of players were met. We (our group) want to ensure everyone is tended to. There are 110 tournaments in Mumbai. MCA, Mumbai cricket has suffered a lot in the two years during the pandemic. If they don’t play on the ground or get a chance to perform, how will we see their talent? It’s a big problem as it’s not just a game of bat and ball. People, when they come for elections, must understand that it’s not a thing that can be changed in one day.
Q: A meeting was held. Jitendra Awhad, Sharad Pawar, Narvekar were present and it is believed that it was said the MCA would need the government. They said that the sports body will need politicians to manage the finances and other aspects as well. How would you counter this? In Karnataka, there was Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath, who later resigned and didn’t continue. You also held a press conference wanting politics to be kept out and keep the administration intact. How true is this?
A: I have never said keep politicians or politics out of it. We are surely going to need the help of the state government. Shelar is now the BCCI treasurer and we hope that be will always help Mumbai cricket. He’s a friend and we all have different views. Mumbai cricket will benefit.
Q: You are trying to fight without a panel. Amit Shah is believed to have told him [Kale] and Shelar to unite. But you insisted on having elections. What really happened?
A: If elections are not held and only compromises are made, then the scope of achieving good results seems very small. In a team of 11 players, if they are not united, then they cannot win. That’s why I believe, whosoever wins must have a common objective, Mumbai cricket should win.
Q: Roger Binny is the new BCCI president. You played together in the 1983 World Cup winning squad. It’s being discussed that Sandeep Patil has benefitted the most because of the political bigwigs uniting. How big is the pressure and responsibility because of the politics involved?
A: The attempt is to do a good job and how well I can do it. I’m not going to lose heart or give up easily. I scored a century at Shivaji Park. I am not defeated, be it in cricket or life. Delhi is not far away, let’s see. You will know in 24 hours.