Thursday, 19th October, 2017

Newshour Debate with Arnab Goswami: Article 370 (a)

04, Jun 2014 By vettiguy

Debate transcript: (You can watch the entire debate here. Other debates on this topic here,here and here)

Arnab Goswami: The year is 1991. The place is Perth, Australia. A teenager named Sachin Tendulkar faces up against a pace attack comprising Merv Hughes, Bruce Reid and Craig McDermott and scores 114 runs. The country is spellbound. We have never seen a player like this. The Indian team is going through a lean phase, talent-wise, and these are special circumstances.

arnab goswami
Arnab in action.

Madhavrao Scindia, the head of the BCCI recognizes the gravity of the situation and works with the Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao to get a constitutional amendment passed which guarantees Tendulkar a “special status” in the Indian cricket team for the foreseeable future.

As we all know, this is Article 370(a). And it has stood for 25 years, guaranteeing Sachin Tendulkar the No.4 spot in the Test match team. Even after he has retired from the game. The big question now– Is it time for a serious debate on Article 370(a)? Should it be repealed? Joining me are N.Srinivasan, representing the BCCI and a hardcore fan of Sachin Tendulkar who calls himself SachinFan. Welcome, both of you. I want to come to you first, SachinFan. You don’t even want a debate on Article 370(a)? Is that right?

SachinFan: Well, Arnab, what you have to understand is that Article 370(a) is the basis of our relationship with the BCCI and cricket. If you want to have a debate on removing the Article, you are alienating most fans in the country who only watch cricket because of Sachin.

Arnab: So you are not willing to even have a debate? Having a debate will make you to stop watching cricket and take up soccer instead?

SachinFan: Absolutely. This is an extremely sensitive issue in this country and we should be very careful when we talk about abrogating it.

Arnab: Let me take that to Mr. Srinivasan. We are hearing from SachinFan that this debate will end up dividing the nation. That the BCCI is ignoring the sentiments of the millions of fans across the country.

Srinivasan: Well, first and foremost, you have to understand that the amendment was temporary. It says so right here in the constitution. I have a copy with me (waves some papers).

Arnab: What do you say to that, SachinFan? Wasn’t it a temporary measure created under extraordinary circumstances? At that time, the next best player in the team with Vinod Kambli. Since then, we’ve had Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble….

SachinFan: It was an indefinite measure temporarily put in place on a permanent basis.

Arnab: Uhhh….

SachinFan: And look at the timing of it. The BCCI is only bringing it up now after Sachin has retired. Such a calculated political move. Why dint you bring it up when he was active player? Now that he has retired and there is a spot left vacant, you want to fill it with someone else? We have a constitutional guarantee that forbids you from doing it.

Srinivasan: Listen SachinFan….

SachinFan: Why dint you bring it up when he was active player?

Arnab: Please wait for him to fini…

SachinFan: Why dint you bring it up when he was active player?

Srinivasan: I am trying to answ…

SachinFan: Why dint you bring it up when he was active player?

Arnab: I am sorry. I have to come in now! SachinFan, you have to let him finish. Go on Mr.Srinivasan.

Srinivasan: I was saying that it’s been a year since Sachin retired. It doesn’t make sense to leave the No.4 spot vacant when we have fresh new talent like Kohli coming up the ranks. But because of 370(a), we are playing one man short every game.

SachinFan: We have a constitutional guarantee against this kind of opportunistic move by the BCCI. And if you want to abrogate it, you need votes from Sachin, 3/4th of his family, 2/3rd of his Facebook friends and over 90% of his sponsors.

Arnab: That’s the thing, Mr.Srinivasan. Do you think a consensus is possible? Can you can get all these people to go along with this?

Srinivasan: Right now, we just want to have a debate about it, that’s all.  We are just asking the question – has 370(a) served the country well? And more importantly, has it served Sachin well?

Arnab: What do you say to that, SachinFan?

SachinFan: Of course it has served him well. Being assured of a place in the team regardless of performance is invaluable. He has broken all sorts of records in the game. He has scored the maximum hundreds, most games played, highest ODI score….

Srinivasan: And only one World Cup win. That too, largely because of the youngsters in Dhoni’s team who stepped up to the occasion. Sachin was not served well at all by 370(a).

SachinFan: That’s ridiculous.

Arnab: Wait a minute.

SachinFan: …and what about all the endorsement deals he signed? Do you even know how many advertisements he was able to act in? And how much he was paid for it? Crores and crores of rupees. If you kept dropping him from the team, do you think he would have been able to sign them? Article 370(a) was to meant provide a certain legal assurance to Sachin and his sponsors which cannot be changed unilaterally by the BCCI.

Arnab: Wait a minute, SachinFan. Let Mr.Srinivasan finish.

Srinivasan: Sachin should have followed the rules that apply to every other player. Giving one person in a team a “special status” forever does not make sense. If not for the Article, would he have gone through that poor run of form in the 2000’s? Or the three years it took him to get that 100th 100? If Ganguly and Dravid can be dropped for not performing, why did we give Sachin special treatment?

SachinFan: Because of the Constitution. He is the only player who negotiated his special place in the team with his sponsors and we have no right to take it away!

Srinivasan: But what about the youth of Indian cricket? They are unhappy. They can’t play because of this Article. The No.4 position is vacant when we have the likes of Rayudu and Raina to fill it. What are you going to tell them? They are suffering because of 370(a)!

SachinFan: You are talking as if there are no other problems in Indian cricket. As if everything else is going on perfectly. Why don’t you fix the corruption in the IPL? Why don’t you fix the corruption with the BCCI first?

Srinivasan: Of course, we will fix it. But that doesn’t mean we cannot have a conversation about this article that is divisive and keeping the youth away from opportunities.

SachinFan: I just have one question for you, Mr. Srinivasan. Do you want to lose the fans? Do you want to lose all of us? Do you want us to watch Liverpool matches instead? Do you want the country to be in flames?

Srinivasan: You are openly threatening the BCCI, SachinFan. This is an open threat to the nation. These are scare tactics. We can’t even have a healthy debate in a democracy anymore.

Arnab: If you are interested in a healthy debate, you are watching the wrong show. Thank you SachinFan. Thank you Mr.Srinivasan. I think we can agree this was a splendid way to fritter away a Friday evening. Hope you will join us for the next debate. This is Arnab Goswami, signing off on Times Now.