A cricketer, a minister & a 1,000-word picture

PALINI R. SWAMY writes: Only a Mysorean who has landed this morning from a 10-day extra-terrestrial journey to planet Mars will accuse the Karnataka minister for medical education, S.A. Ramdas, of being publicity-shy.

The Krishnaraja MLA—who holds the wholly unconstitutional post of “district in-charge minister”—effectively used  the Dasara festival to fill up his personal photo album, by being at the centre of every ribbon-cutting event, regardless of his contribution to it.

There he was playing cycle polo.

There he was singing bhajans with his mother.

There he was riding the speed boat.

There he was inaugurating exhibitions….

And where somebody else did the honours (like Shobha Karandlaje did at the food mela) because he didn’t have the civility to turn up on time, Ramdas stood miffed like a Vidyaranyapuram school boy denied his rightful kobbri mithai.

Yet, in the middle of all his Dasara histrionics, this very revealing photograph appeared as part of the lead story in the Star of Mysore, on October 2.

It shows Ramdas (left), who otherwise gets all self-righteous at the sound of an RSS whistle going off at a neighbourhood shakha, sitting meekly before the former Test cricketer, Javagal Srinath (middle), who, in the spirit of Dasara, is lazed out like, well, the erstwhile prince of Mysore, Srikantadatta Wodeyar, usually is, lanky legs all stretched out.

(Let’s just say the gentleman on the right, Ashwini Ranjan, is poised like the chairman of the Mysore zone of the Karnataka State cricket association (KSCA) should be.)

The SOM picture is an exercise in steganography, even without getting into the merits or demerits of the posture of the “word’s most famous Mysorean” although it is his own home.

For starters, a minister visits an ex-cricketer’s house, and not the other way round, to discuss matters official.

And for another, the minister (whose interest in real estate is a potential PhD thesis) goes to the ex-cricketer’s house to announce that the district administration has identified three plots of 30 acres for KSCA to build an “international stadium” in Mysore.

Here’s the irony: the district administration over which Ramdas arrogantly claims a maharaja-like control, cannot find small pieces of land for the thousands of simple citizens who are waiting in the queue for years to build their dream home.

Yet, for cash-flushed KSCA, the minister is willing to go to the applicant’s house to give three plots of 30 acres to choose from.

Here’s the additional irony: KSCA, whose president Anil Kumble is already facing allegations of conflict of interest, is not short of cash. Yet, it doesn’t want to pay market rates for a 30-acre plot but wants the government to dole out a gift at a severely subsidised rates.

Whose land will be acquired (or siphoned off) for Mysore’s  “international stadium” is not difficult to guess, but should taxpayers’ money be used to satiate the real-estate hunger of KSCA, which is but a conglomeration of private cricket clubs?

Especially when sky-high ticket rates and a plethora of “passes”, ensure that ordinary cricket lovers can never get a chance to watch such matches in such stadiums?

Net-net, this picture is a testimony why Indian spot is cricket-centred, why other sports do not make headway, why politicians play such a big role in cricket, why real estate is the new game in town, and add-your-own-crib-here.

Also read: Questions for M/s Kumble & Srinath

BCCI, Infosys, Kumble and a silly PR stunt