I clearly remember the first time I met ‘Jaggu’ as I used to call Jagmohan Dalmiya. It was at a special general body meeting of BCCI, held at Hyderabad in 1980. Meeting had been convened to elect managers for the upcoming twin tours of Australia and New Zealand.
I had already been part of the BCCI having entered the ring in 1977. In our first meeting together Jaggu n I struck a good rapport. We decided to take on the powerful ruling dispensation controlled by stalwarts including m a Chidambaram, Fatehsingh Rao Gaekwad, p m Rungta, s k Wankhede, and Chinnaswamy, the then president chairing the meeting. The ruling group proposed the names of Keki Tarapore and Chandu Borde for the twin tours. Jaggu and I who had decided to coordinate our efforts dared the mighty by proposing names of Sq. Leader Durran OJHA for the two tours. While Shahid Durrani was declared elected but we were denied the second win by sheer manipulation and chicanery on the part of two returning officers, namely Fatehsinghrao Gaekwad and Rungta. Who declared 3 votes of our candidate invalid. When we confronted them to show us the invalid votes, they actually tore up all the votes. Rungta later told us that our guy had won the vote.
Another typical Marwari trait he had was an uncanny knack of reading balance sheets n statement of accounts. While going through the accounts for AGM of 1980, held in Sept., in Bangalore which was held 3 months after the SGM in Hyderabad referred to at above, we took on mighty Chidambaram who was the treasurer of the board on the basis of an discrepancy in the accounts detected by Jaggu regarding printing of books in the printing press run by S Sriraman who subsequently became board pres. in 1985. Jaggu n I took on Chidambaram. Farooq Abdullah in his inimitable style got up and asked Jaggu and me, " Is Chidambaram a thief?" We obviously ducked a bouncer coming from Farooq sahib. We martial led a majority and would have win elections in 1980 itself but for a last moment adjournment by Chinnaswamy and 2 overnight "2 ayarams gayarams " namely Ranbir Mahindra and Kewal Mehra who jumped the fence and accepted post of Jt Secy and VP respectively.
This was the beginning of a lasting and fruitful partnership, which endured till my retirement in 1996.That is how I came to know Jaggu. We would sit at opposite ends of the BCCI table and would launch into arguments to expose the ruling camp. Together we broke the monopoly and stranglehold of a very powerful incumbent group in the BCCI. This built up a strong friendship and rapport with Jaggu and from then on till 1996, when I formally left BCCI, we were in regular touch. We spoke virtually every morning, sometimes for as long as three hours. My wife grew so exasperated that she actually teased me that Jaggu had actually become a "Souten"
This marked the beginning of a bindra-Dalmia era. We complimented each other. I was the dreamer and the visionary, Jaggu being the implementer par excellence. His biggest strength was the art of follow up. He was an amazing worker. I was busy with various other responsibilities, performing as a civil servant. Jaggu was a man who was very set in his ways. He never changed his trademark attire – the safari suit. He wore it day in and out. The only difference was in his early days he would were a striped shirt and trousers. I sometimes jokingly told him: "If you want to wear a Safari, at least consider wearing a plain one.”
His other big strength was he was a terrific dealmaker and could bag the biggest and most lucrative deals with ease. In 1984 under the leadership of NKP Salve, then BCCI president, we moved the World Cup out of England to give South Asian cricket fans the excitement and glory of the 1987 Reliance World Cup. We succeeded in eliminating the English and Australian stranglehold on cricket and made the ICC a truly representative and democratic global body.
Those were also the days when we earnestly laid the foundations of making Indian cricket the commercial force it is today. We started by breaking the monopoly of Indian public broadcaster, Doordarshan, to air all games involving the Indian cricket team. This was a Herculean task and not quite as easy as it may look today. It took patience, perseverance and mental strength to fight the monopoly all the way up to the Supreme Court of India.
The court issued a landmark judgment in 1994 and enabled us to bring in global broadcasters and producers like ESPN and TWI. This was truly a watershed moment in the history of Indian cricket, which catalyzed the satellite broadcasting industry in India. This was, in my view, our biggest achievement during our tenure as BCCI administrators. After 1994, the commercialization of Indian cricket has proceeded at a steady pace and without too much change. Of course, Lalit Modi marketed Indian cricket more effectively, but the real and transformative principles of change were actually laid down during the 1994 Hero Cup.
It was Jaggu's idea to organize the Hero Cup to mark the CAB golden jubilee. He did not sleep for three nights when the case was being heard. He coordinated with various officials at the different venues, used his powers of persuasion and did not give up in his efforts to keep Doordarshan out of it at all costs.
For all his strengths and fine qualities, Jaggu could also be very stubborn. In 1981 when BN Dutt was wrongly removed as the East Zone vice-president, both Jaggu and I told the then BCCI President Wankhede, he had made a mistake in nominating a person from the Eastern Indian state of Bihar, who did not even have a proposer and seconder from the East Zone. Wankhede made light of our concerns, but Jaggu took the matter to heart. He refused to attend a dinner that evening. I tried to convince him to come and even cited board tradition that fights were to be fought at the board table and evenings should be for a drink together. I explained we were opponents, not enemies, but Jaggu remained adamant and said he would `boycott all their functions.’ I remember him telling me: `They violated conventions so we will also throw conventions to the wind.’ We were successful in removing barrister Wankhede without his completing the normal tenure of 3 years. In 1982 AGM at Bangalore we staged a coup and brought in NKP Salve in his place. As revenge for their removal of BN Dutt at Kanpur in 1981. This was a true reflection if Jaggu. The inveterate opponent and foe.
In 1996 when I retired as BCCI president Jaggu wanted me to be the executive treasurer just like M Chidambaram had done previously. I told him that I had been very critical of Chidambaram and had decided not to hold any office after I retired as BCCI president. I still remember we argued about this at length on a train journey from London to Nottingham, where we were going to watch the Trent Bridge Test match.
Jaggu could be critical of me and often told me: `You are very strong about your principles, but once you retire from government service you will be forgotten and no one will care about you.’ I told him I didn’t care and always stressed that principles were paramount. What he cared about most was achieving his goals. That was the big difference between us.
I can never forget Jaggu’s commitment, complete dedication and hard work. He very genuinely loved the game and made an oversized contribution to administering Indian cricket. He made Indian cricket into a global powerhouse. We fought many a battle together. I will miss him. Indian cricket will miss him. Indian cricket and global cricket owes Jaggu a lot. ’’
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Inderjit Singh Bindra, also known as I. S. Bindra, is a cricket administrator who was formerly a President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Bindra served as the President of Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) from 1978 to 2014. In 2015, he was elected as the Chairman of PCA.
Bindra was elected President of BCCI in 1993 and held the post until 1996. Bindra and Jagmohan Dalmiya were responsible for hosting the Cricket World Cup in the Indian subcontinent in 1987 and 1996. Bindra has also worked as principal advisor of the International Cricket Council (ICC) when Sharad Pawar was its President.
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