Among others at Jagmohan Dalmiya’s funeral at Eden Gardens on Monday were secretary Anurag Thakur, former BCCI presidents Sharad Pawar and Shashank Manohar, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla and ICC chief N Srinivasan — basically, the who’s who of Indian cricket’s administration. All eyes will be on them, as well as on a few other key figures, as the search — some would call it a tug of war — begins for a new leader.
Dalmiya’s death has created a power void in the BCCI. And amid the outpouring of grief and tributes, backroom manoeuvring has begun. The BCCI constitution says if the president’s post is vacated mid-tenure, “the secretary shall within fifteen days convene a Special General Body Meeting (SGM) to elect the president who shall be nominated by at least one Full Member from the zone which proposed the name of the president whose term was cut short prematurely. Such person who is so elected shall hold office till the next elections”.
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Gautam Roy is the vice-president from the East Zone and he can be the (interim) president till the next elections if at least one affiliate from his zone proposes his name at the SGM and others accept it. But if someone – from any zone – challenges his nomination and finds a proposer from the East Zone (it’s their turn to nominate the president until 2017), there would be a contest. According to a cricket board official, the situation has presented Srinivasan with an opportunity to regain his control in the BCCI.
Srini back in the game?
Srinivasan is a not allowed to contest elections until his “conflict of interest” issue is resolved. And the board has already filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court, seeking clarity over his eligibility to attend the BCCI meetings. “Srinivasan still has conflict of interest,” the affidavit claims. But with at least 13 state associations still lending support to him, the erstwhile BCCI boss can be the kingmaker, which will allow him to have a firm grip over the proceedings. According to a source, Srinivasan might back G Ganga Raju (vice-president from South Zone) or CK Khanna (vice-president from Central Zone) for the post of (interim) president to keep the seat warm until he gets the nod to get back to the main scheme of things.
Both Ganga Raju and Khanna are known to be Srinivasan’s loyalists. The former’s association with the BJP gives him a significant advantage as the ruling party is believed to have control over six seats in the BCCI.
This, however, would be a stop-gap arrangement, given that the Annual General Meeting is due and a notification will be issued via an emergent working committee meeting as soon as the Supreme Court takes a call on Srinivasan’s eligibility. In case of a full-fledged election, heavyweights will be in action. It is learnt that BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry or joint-secretary Amitabh Chaudhary could be Srinivasan’s favoured options if the court doesn’t clear him by the time the next AGM is held. Things will become interesting if Sharad Pawar, the Mumbai Cricket Association president, decides to take on his bête noire.
“Srinivasan camp will face a serious challenge if Pawar throws his hat into the ring. But he will have to contest the (presidential) election. Throwing up a nominee won’t help…The candidate won’t garner enough support,” said a BCCI insider.
What about Thakur, the man who will be in-charge till the SGM?
“See, he had earlier been with Srinivasan but shifted allegiance before the last AGM. Dalmiya’s death has made him sit on the fence. Dalmiya was Srinivasan’s nominee, but after he took charge, he had preferred people from the rival camp for almost all important posts in the BCCI. Rajeev Shukla became the IPL chairman, Jyotiraditya Scindia was appointed chairman of the finance committee, Chetan Desai headed the marketing committee…These are people who lost the elections. And as Dalmiya’s health started to deteriorate, Thakur became very powerful. But now he has to make a choice,” said the source.
Shukla, too, is reportedly eyeing the top post and lobbying hard to get the numbers in his favour from the East. The equation, however, appears to be a little tricky on the eastern front. The Orissa Cricket Association, Jharkhand State Cricket association and Assam Cricket Association are said to be with Srinivasan, while the Tripura Cricket Association backs Thakur. The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) could be a key player here as it also influences the National Cricket Club’s (NCC) vote.
Both Sourav Ganguly (joint-secretary) and Biswarup Dey (treasurer) will become very important in the state association following Dalmiya’s death. As per the CAB constitution, an SGM has to be called within two months to elect the new president, and Ganguly and Dey might stay away from directly taking part in the process. Still, power will lie with them, for Ganguly has the aura of a former India captain and blessings from the state government, while Dey is very popular among the members.
Grapevine has it that Ganguly is on good terms with Thakur, while Dey is close to Srinivasan. Dey convinced Srinivasan to bring Dalmiya back when he had been made persona non grata in the Indian cricket board. And not many moons ago, Srinivasan had dropped by at an NGO, Refuge, run by Dey and donated Rs 1 crore in his personal capacity.
Can BCCI hold SGM?
Now that the BCCI has sought legal clarity over Srinivasan’s eligibility to attend meetings, can it call an SGM? The board had adjourned its August 28 working committee meeting over Srinivasan’s presence and similar uncertainties might arise if the Tamil Nadu strongman decides to attend the SGM. “As this is an extraordinary situation, I think the BCCI should request the court for a quick disposal of the matter. Else, everything will come to a standstill,” said a cricket board vice-president.