Bedi says no to Jaitley statue at Feroze Shah Kotla

Former Indian skipper Bishen Singh Bedi has protested the decision of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), an affiliate of the BCCI, to install a statue of Arun Jaitley at the Feroze Shah Kotla stadium in the Indian Capital. Bedi, considered one of the most outspoken cricketers of his times, has resigned from DDCA in protest.

In a letter to the DDCA president Rohan Jaitley, a copy of which is with News Intervention, Bedi said the following: “It’s WG Grace at Lords, 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.”

Bedi said he wrote the letter with a heavy heart & deep sense of embarrassment.

“I’m old enough to know that one doesn’t talk ill of the dead.

“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,” wrote Bedi.

Statue of Indian politician Arun Jaitley.

The stadium has various stands named after Virat Kohli, Bishan Singh Bedi, Mohinder Amarnath, and Gautam Gambhir. Another stand is expected to be named in the memory of Chetan Chauhan, a former India opening batsman and DDCA vice-president who passed away this August 16.

The statue of the former Union Minister Arun Jaitley is to be unveiled on his 68th birth anniversary on December 28, 2020. Jaitley was president of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) for 14 years, from 1999 to 2013, before he opted out of cricket administration due to the 2014 general elections. 

Presently, DDCA is headed by his son Rohan, 31, who was elected president unopposed on October 17, 2020. The decision to install a statue of Arun Jaitley was taken in the first meeting of the DDCA apex council in October, soon after Rohan, a new treasurer, and four other directors were elected, a source said.

The statue is being designed by the same father-son Suthar duo of Ram Sutar Art Creations Pvt. Ltd and Ram Sutar Fine Arts Pvt. Ltd, which designed Sardar Patel’s Statue of Unity – the world’s tallest at 597 feet — on the banks of river Narmada in Gujarat.

Bedi said his relationship with 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. 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.”

“I pride myself as a man of immense tolerance & patience..but all that I’m afraid is running out,” said the veteran spinner.

“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,” wrote Bedi.

Shantanu Guha Ray
Shantanu Guha Ray
Shantanu Guha Ray is India Editor, Central European News (CEN), Vienna and the Consulting Editor, News Intervention. His much-acclaimed and award-winning book, Target, takes a close look at the NSEL crisis.

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