LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
Chennai, June 2: The “fear factor” and strong backing from a prominent leader of the Opposition, Arun Jaitley, and Union minister Rajeev Shukla helped Narayanswamy Srinivasan sail through a meeting where he was expected to be shoved into a corner.
As things stand, the repercussions are likely to be far-reaching.
Srinivasan played his cards exceptionally, outsmarting those who wanted him to go on moral grounds. He built a tight case around the “I have done no wrong” theme and “don’t hang me for the misdeeds of my son-in-law (Gurunath Meiyappan)” argument.
Many in the BCCI had strong reservations over Srinivasan continuing as its president, but only one of the 15 affiliates at this afternoon’s emergent working committee meeting had something to say against him.
Barring Punjab, represented by former BCCI president Inderjit Singh Bindra, nobody said a word. Not even Sudhir Dabir, vice-president from Central who is from Shashank “Mr Clean” Manohar’s backyard —Vidarbha.
Despite what Bindra told the media, well-placed sources indicated that he’d asked Srinivasan to step down in a “roundabout way”. For the record, Srinivasan denied that.
Srinivasan had his way and has merely stepped aside as BCCI president till the commission of inquiry gives its report. It could be anywhere between four and eight weeks.
The commission hasn’t started work and, already, questions have been raised over the way it has been constituted, by two members of the “operations team” of the IPL!
Strangely, nobody objected to this nonsense.
Worse, the emergent meeting didn’t name a replacement for Sanjay Jagdale, one of the three members of the commission, who has quit as BCCI secretary. He won’t reconsider his resignation and definitely won’t sit on the commission.
Till its report, Jagmohan Dalmiya, who once controlled world cricket, will “conduct the day-to-day affairs” of the BCCI. Because of technicalities, he hasn’t been given a formal designation, but is effectively going to be an interim president.
Absolute clarity is awaited, but Dalmiya’s decisions are supposed to be “ratified” by the working committee on a weekly basis. The ratification is to be done through a teleconference.
Can’t, on the face of it, be a big deal for one who has been the sultan of cricket administration.
Perhaps, Dalmiya is looking ahead, which is why he was all smiles in his suite at the Sheraton Park Hotel & Towers.
“I’ve been given a big responsibility,” Dalmiya stated, when a comment was sought by The Telegraph.
It wasn’t long ago that Dalmiya and Srinivasan were daggers drawn, but circumstances have brought them together. Yet, both would be somewhat wary of each other.
In fact, Srinivasan had been one of the key players when Dalmiya was expelled in December 2006. But, then, nothing is permanent in the BCCI.
Dalmiya’s and Manohar’s names were proposed by Jaitley, who participated in the emergent meeting via a video link-up from New Delhi, but Srinivasan preferred “insider” Dalmiya.
Manohar and Srinivasan have fallen apart, so it was convenient for the latter to veto predecessor Manohar on the pretext that he’d been out of the BCCI for 21 months and is today an “outsider”.
Also, Manohar is seen as being close to Union minister Sharad Pawar, a former president of the International Cricket Council and the BCCI, who has his sights on making a comeback as a cricket administrator.
Neither Srinivasan nor Dalmiya is enamoured of Pawar.
Srinivasan began the emergent meeting with a speech which lasted around 15 minutes. He spoke of the problems the BCCI is facing, emphasised that he’d done no wrong and concluded by insisting he wouldn’t resign.
The house heard that bit in silence. As Bindra put it, “people say one thing in private, but don’t open their mouth in public”.
In keeping with his stand, Srinivasan blamed the media and remarked he was more in the news “than the Prime Minister”.
Thereafter, the “stage” was taken by Jaitley, who suggested that Srinivasan step aside till the commission gives its findings. He promptly agreed.
Exactly a week ago, Srinivasan had cocked a snook at Jaitley. He should really have set an example and not discharged the functions of president from the time Gurunath was arrested by Mumbai police. That was on May 24.
During the discussions, a suggestion was made that Jaitley himself take day-to-day charge of the BCCI. He excused himself owing to political compulsions and, in turn, proposed Dalmiya/Manohar.
Ajay Shirke, meanwhile, has made it clear that he won’t take back his resignation as BCCI treasurer. He’d been a “special invitee”, apparently after considerable drama.
Shirke finds the new arrangement “unconstitutional”, but didn’t make an issue at the emergent meeting.
Jagdale was given the same status as Shirke, but he couldn’t come from Indore. Instead, he featured in a video link-up, like Jaitley, Shukla, joint secretary Anurag Thakur, a Delhi representative, and Anil Kumble (from London).
The politicians stayed away, but still pulled strings.
Incidentally, the emergent meeting wasn’t in accordance with the rules of the BCCI and, therefore, illegal technically. What transpired will be “validated” later.
But so was the nearly 150-minute coming together of administrators who have a massive responsibility towards a billion and more.