New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) Kamal Morarka — Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office of Chandra Shekhar in 1990-91, businessman, and cricket administrator — died on Friday, aged 74, after brief illness.
As a cricket official, he opposed the decision to ban Mohammed Azharuddin and other cricketers in the match-fixing scandal in 2000, and later called the decision to ban them “total sham”.
Morarka was also a Rajya Sabha member from Rajasthan from Janata Dal (Secular) from 1988-94.
Born in a Marwari family on 18 June, 1946, Morarka was a lively man and never minced words.
As a vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), from 1996-2005, Morarka had strong views on certain issues, specifically on the match-fixing scandal of 2000, after a hard-hitting Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report on match-fixing alleged that many cricketers — Indian and foreigners — were involved in tanking matches.
While the BCCI, then headed by AC Muthiah, was struggling to find ways to handle the match-fixing scandal, Morarka famously said that “there was more corruption in the CBI than in cricket”. He said that after a BCCI meeting, convened to deal with the scandal, when surrounded by the media at the Taj Man Singh hotel in New Delhi.
Morarka’s comments put the BCCI in an embarrassing situation. The BCCI quickly disassociated itself with Morarka’s comments, and said that was his personal opinion. He felt that BCCI acted in undue haste to ban players for their alleged roles in match-fixing and that it was done to show the world that it was promptly taking action.
As one of the three members of the BCCI disciplinary committee, Morarka skipped the crucial meeting at which the decision to ban Azhrauddin and four other persons was taken, on December 5, 2000, and later called the decision a “total sham”.
Then BCCI president Muthiah and Karnakata State Cricket Association president KM Ram Prasad were the other members of the disciplinary committee. Despite Morarka skipping the meeting and refusing to sign the minutes, the BCCI, in the minutes of the meeting, claimed that the decision was “unanimous”.
“Certainly not [I didn’t sign]. It [decision to ban Azharuddin] was a total sham. It was totally wrong. K. Madhavan was, of course, a high-profile man [a former CBI joint director]. Informally, he told me that India should set higher standards [in taking measures to check betting and match-fixing] than even South Africa and England. Even the disciplinary panel was scared of the press,” Morarka had said in an interview in September 2019.
“I told Muthiah that it was a money matter. The charge against Azhar was that he had taken money, but forget the proof…proof toh tha hi nahi (there was no proof)… There’s no proof in the CBI Report [of 2000 on match-fixing] also,” he had said.