Srini reigns over the BCCI, come courts or election

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N.Srinivasan comes out from a city hotel after attending BCCI Working Committee meeting in Kolkata. PTI Photo
N.Srinivasan comes out from a city hotel after attending BCCI Working Committee meeting in Kolkata. PTI Photo

The president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) N Srinivasan’s tumultuous two-year tenure comes to an end this month. While Srinivasan is going ahead full steam announcing his intention to ensure a one-year extension by contesting the upcoming elections, his fate hangs in a balance. The SC will, on Friday, respond to an interim injunction in the Public Interest Litigation filed by Cricket Association of Bihar secretary, Aditya Verma who is seeking to disallow Srinivasan from contesting elections at the upcoming Annual General Meeting on 29th September in Chennai.

In addition, Verma says, “Srinivasan should not be allowed to be a member of any committee of the BCCI until the SC passes a verdict in the petition I’d filed in July.” Referring to an interview given by Srinivasan recently, Verma says “Srinivasan now claims he has nothing to do with Meiyappan, tomorrow he may say, ‘Meiyappan, who?’”

Verma has, so far, already managed to dent Srinivasan’s credibility after securing a decision from the Bombay High Court saying that the probe panel (formed by the BCCI) that gave a clean chit to Srinivasan’s son-in-law and former Team Principal of Chennai Superkings, Gurunath Meiyappan among others, was unconstitutional and illegal. In August, Verma filed a Special Leave Petition in the apex court appealing that Srinivasan be not allowed to attend any BCCI meetings until the SC disposes off the IPL probe panel case.

Though he had “stepped aside” on moral grounds following “media hounding” after allegations of betting were raised against Meiyappan in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League, Srinivasan is technically eligible for a one-year extension. For that, the State Cricket Associations (SCA) must vote in his favour at the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 29 September, which is no biggie for the Chennai-based businessman who enjoys the support of at least four of the six SCAs which comprise the South Zone – a requisite to retain his Presidency.

As per the rotation policy, this time, it is the South Zone’s turn to propose, and second Srinivasan’s candidature or any other candidate’s who wishes to contest for the post. If another candidate were to stand for elections, Srinivasan would have to secure majority among the 30 SCAs, which have 1 vote each.

TC Mathew, President of the Kerala Cricket Association, who backs Srinivasan’s candidature confirmed to TEHELKA that Srinivasan would be liable to exercise the BCCI President’s vote and a second vote in lieu of the fact that he is also the President of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association. Clearly, in the absence of an opponent, Srinivasan would sail through with the support of the associations from Tamil Nadu Karnataka, Kerala and Hyderabad.

While rumours of former BCCI president Shashank Manohar standing against Srinivasan did the rounds last week, sources say that the Andhra Pradesh Cricket Association and the Goa Cricket Association (both part of the South Zone) backed out on supporting his candidature.

“It’d be good if Shashank Manohar were to take reigns. He has a clean reputation. He was even known to bear his own expenses to attend BCCI meetings. But everyone knows how corrupt the BCCI is. The members have a binding understanding and the same cannot even be said of former players even in SCAs who refuse to take a firm stand for the game,” says former India captain and spinner, Bishan Singh Bedi.

With the AGM less than a week away, the interim BCCI president and the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal, Jagmohan Dalmiya refused to comment on whether any other candidatures were being considered saying that he “will not speculate on the matter and we must wait for the appropriate time.”

Meanwhile BCCI Joint Secretary and President of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, Anurag Thakur said that the possibility of candidates other than Srinivasan could only be confirmed on 27-28 September as that would be the last date of filing nominations for the post.”

With no confirmed opponents yet, a comeback for Srinivasan seemed imminent, if not certain, until Verma’s injunction. But some like former player and member of the 1983 World Cup winning squad, Kirti Azad say that “it really doesn’t matter whether Srinivasan is allowed to attend meetings or contest because the BCCI is a united alliance of corruption. Anyone who raises questions honestly will be unceremoniously ‘removed’ like Ajay Shirke (former BCCI treasurer) and Sanjay Jagdale (former BCCI Board Secretary).”

“On the one hand, the BCCI disciplinary committee headed by Srinivasan slaps life bans against players S Sreesanth and Ankeet Chavan who have been chargesheeted but the charges against them haven’t been proven yet. But when the Mumbai Police files a 11,000-page chargesheet against his son-in-law among others for betting and cheating, no such action is announced,” Azad points out.

One could argue that the BCCI is bound to take action against players rather than those involved in betting. But that the role of the BCCI includes tackling corruption other than that of players, is proven by the BCCI’s decision taken today at its Special General Meeting to expel former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi Special for his involvement in financial irregularities in the first few seasons of the IPL.

Interestingly, Srinivasan, who is also the Managing Director of India Cements, (which owns Chennai Superkings) has himself been chargesheeted by the CBI. Srinivasan was charged earlier this month in the disproportionate assets case. But since the BCCI does not accept the Sports Bill, the BCCI constitution by itself does not bar chargesheeted officials from contesting elections.

Other considerations that may come up in the Supreme Court hearing scheduled for Friday is whether Srinivasan has flouted the court by attending and chairing disciplinary and marketing committees despite submitting an affidavit to the Bombay High Court on 4 July stating that he would keep away from the BCCI’s “day-to-day” functioning.

With the final candidates only being made public a day or two short of the AGM, Srinivasan has wasted no time to ensure he has a full hold over the South Zone, which will play a key role in the outcome of the elections. But despite his stronghold, Srinivasan may be left completely sidelined and perhaps, not even be allowed to attend the AGM if the Supreme Court decides to uphold Verma’s plea. That’d be a “step aside,” for good.

shonali@tehelka.com

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