Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal finally gave an audience to DDCA officials on Sunday, but no concessions on the Rs 24.46 crore entertainment tax demand slapped on the association.
The DDCA is desperate to host the India-South Africa next month, but not without paying the long standing dues — unless it gets a breather from the Delhi government, something looks unlikely as of now.
With only 36 hours left, starting Monday morning, for the BCCI’s 17 November deadline to expire for the DDCA to confirm if it can host the Test, the association is ready to move Delhi High Court on Monday itself, if required.
On Sunday, Kejriwal gave no concession to DDCA working president Chetan Chauhan, a former BJP member of Parliament, and treasurer Ravinder Manchanda, who met him at his residence and sought clearances from him so that the match could be played at the Ferozeshah Kotla from 3 December.
While both Chauhan and Manchanda couldn’t be reached, sources in the Delhi government said that Kejriwal has asked the two DDCA officials to discuss the issues with officials of the Excise Department that collects entertainment tax in Delhi.
Sources said the last option for the DDCA will be to move the Delhi High Court, assuming it doesn’t get any discount from the excise department. The DDCA, it is learnt, has done its homework to move the court.
“When the DDCA officials met Kejriwal he expressed concern at the state of affairs in the DDCA, about both financial and selection issues at the Kotla,” a Delhi government source told JantaKaReporter.com
“The chief minister told them that he aware of efforts being made to make complainants withdraw their complaints registered about financial embezzlement at the DDCA,” said the source.
He was referring to the 12 secret resolutions moved by circulation among the DDCA directors recently seeking to withdraw all court and police cases by some of them.
“Kejriwal was also told them he was aware that the DDCA directors were getting directions from somewhere outside the Ferozeshah Kotla; he said the link goes right to the top, but didn’t elaborate further,” said the source.
After hearing Kejriwal, the DDCA officials told him that they were making efforts to cleanse the system at the Kotla.
“While apprising him about the poor financial health of the DDCA, Chauhan and Manchanda requested Kejriwal to keep the Rs 24.46 crore entertainment tax demand in abeyance for the time being and give the green signal to the association to host the match, starting on 3 December,” said the source.
“Kejriwal told them that he would go by the law of the land on this issue of taxes etc. But the DDCA officials wanted him to take a ‘political decision’ and grant permission to the association to host the match,” he said.
So far the Rs 24.46 crore tax is concerned, Chauhan has already said that the Excise Department’s method of calculation of the entertainment tax, which comprises a big unpaid amount for previous years, was wrong.
Another source said that if Monday’s meeting between DDCA officials and the Delhi Excise Department fails, the DDCA would move Delhi High Court to get a stay.
After Kejriwal received complaints from a few quarters, including NCT Cricket Association president Bishan Singh Bedi, regarding different kinds of corruption in the DDCA, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia constituted a three-member committee, under Chetan B. Sanghi, Principal Secretary PWD, Urban Development & Vigilance.
The committee was tasked to probe two specific areas and report back. The committee submitted its report on Sunday and sources said that the report might be made public on Monday.
On Saturday, the committee members met BCCI president Shashank Manohar in Nagpur and discussed issues related to the DDCA. The committee also explored the possibility of Delhi government jointly organising the Test with the BCCI. But Manohar rejected the proposal.
“How can we agree to a government hosting a match? If a match has to be organised [in Delhi] only DDCA will have to host it. I have told this to the committee. We cannot allow the government to run the game,” Manohar told JantaKaReporter.com after the meeting.
“A discussion took place and during the discussion this issue cropped up. So, I clearly told him that we can’t allow the government to run the game – not just Delhi government but any government,” he said.