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BCCI after Dalmiya: Pawar the front-runner, Jaitley & Amit Shah the kingmakers

Qaiser Mohammad Ali | Updated on: 24 September 2015, 11:40 IST
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The election

  • After Jagmohan Dalmiya\'s death, race for the BCCI chief\'s post has begun
  • The competition is between the Sharad Pawar and N Srinivasan groups
  • If neither gets a majority, the third group will be decisive. It is known to follow Arun Jaitley
  • In the end Jaitley and BJP president Amit Shah will be kingmakers

The uncertainty

  • A major question is whether N Srinivasan will attend the meeting or not
  • The meeting is scheduled for 5 October
  • Supreme Court hearing on Srinivasan\'s alleged conflict of interest is on the same day
  • East Zone will play a critical role. With Dalmiya gone, Mamata Banerjee might some influence

Cricket politics in India is a ruthless business. Even before Jagmohan Dalmiya's ashes could be scattered over sacred waters, the backroom manoeuvrings to replace him have already begun.

Dalmiya's death has taken BCCI back to where it was in the run-up to the election on 2 March this year. Hectic politicking and a scramble for votes has begun once again.

Read more - The Dalmiya I knew: a businessman with his heart in the right place

At that election, Dalmiya and other BCCI office-bearers were elected for a three-year term. Now the president has to be elected for the remainder of the term.

The contenders

Sharad Pawar, former BCCI president and current chief of the Mumbai Cricket Association, seems to be ahead in the race. But if past elections are any indication, the real twists and turns will happen in the slog overs - the night before the election.

Pawar's supporters say that their leader has already indicated to them that he was not averse to heading the world's wealthiest cricket body again.

According to the secretary of a state association, there are 3 broad groups in the BCCI:

  1. Sharad Pawar group
  2. N Srinivasan group
  3. Arun Jaitley's sphere of influence: This isn't a proper group. It comprises associations like Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra, Orissa and the three government institutions (Railways, Services and Universities). In this group, most members listen to Jaitley.

The official said that both Pawar and Srinivasan groups would try to get the majority in the 30-member BCCI general body. This excludes the vote of the meeting's chairman, who has the casting vote as well as an additional vote.

"If both the Pawar group and Srinivasan group fail to get a majority - 16 votes - they would turn to the third group," the official said.

Finance minister Jaitley and BJP president Amit Shah are going to be the kingmakers.

However, the official points out that even before the two BJP leaders seal the seal, Pawar is likely to meet Jaitley to test the waters.

"The day Pawar and Jaitley meet and discuss the issue - and Amit Shah [gives the clearance] - we will know what is actually happening. Till then all this kite flying [in the media] will continue," he said.

Pawar's game

As is widely known in political and cricketing circles, Pawar doesn't enter a battle unless he is absolutely assured of a win. The only aberration in his long career has been the solitary vote defeat he suffered for the BCCI's president's post in 2004. The reason for his defeat was the casting vote by Dalmiya. That defeat to Dalimya-supported Ranbir Singh Mahindra must have surely made Pawar more circumspect.

Pawar was to throw his hat in the ring at the March BCCI Annual General Meeting too. But when the numbers didn't stack up (read absence of a proposer and seconder from the East Zone), he decided to throw his weight behind Dalmiya. Interestingly, even Srinivasan supported Dalmiya and he was elected unopposed.

Pawar and BJP MP Anurag Thakur, who won the secretary's post by one vote, had joined hands in March and they are likely to come together once again, despite being in different political parties.

Suspense over the meeting

According to the BCCI's rules and regulations, the meeting to elect the new president would have to be convened by 5 October.

Interestingly, 5 October also happens to be the day when the Supreme Court will hear BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur's application on whether Srinivasan can attend Board meetings given the allegations of a conflict of interest.

However, the senior official feels that the convening of the Special General Meeting isn't directly related to the Srinivasan issue.

"There is no statutory restriction on the SGM. The Board secretary has to call an SGM within 15 days and the only problem is that the secretary has referred the Srinivasan conflict-of-interest issue to the Supreme Court," he said. "Now he has to decide whether to wait for the Supreme Court's order or call the SGM. If the secretary calls the SGM and if Srinivasan turns up, then whoever will chair that meeting [to be elected in the boardroom] will have to take a call."

BCCI has 3 groups: Pawar, Srinivasan and a group of associations who follow Jaitley's advice

As per BCCI tradition, electing the chairman for the meeting will be the first item on the SGM's agenda. Whoever gets elected chairman, will have wide ranging powers to decide who all attend the meeting.

"For example, he can allow Srinivasan to sit in the meeting but prevent him from voting. Or he could allow Srinivasan to vote but put his vote in a sealed cover. The chairman will be the master of the day," said the official.

BCCI's official lawyer Usha Nath Banerjee too endorsed the view that SGM could be convened without waiting for a final Supreme Court opinion on Srinivasan.

"Why not? That [SGM] has nothing to do with the Srinivasan issue; that's a different issue. The meeting has to be called," Banerjee told Catch, adding that the hearing has been fixed for 2 pm on 5 October.

Asked what would happen if Srinivasan turns up at the SGM, Banerjee said: "That will depend on what the Supreme Court says [early that day, assuming the SGM starts in the afternoon]."

Rajeev Shukla's ambitions

Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association secretary Rajeev Shukla is also reportedly interested in the BCCI top job. Among the advantages that he enjoys is that he is close to Jaitley and enjoys friendly relations with everyone, across party lines.

A Congress MP, Shukla was keen on contesting for the same post in March, but couldn't muster the numbers.

Though Pawar's party NCP and Congress aren't allies any more, it would be difficult for Shukla to challenge the Maratha strongman.

Whoever eventually gets the nod from the powers-that-be will have to produce a proposer and a seconder from a full member association in the East Zone. This power to a zone is given by rotation and it is the East Zone's chance this time.

In March, the Srinivasan-Dalmiya combine sealed all the East Zone associations, forcing Pawar to change his plans.

With Dalmiya no longer there, it is said that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to have a say on which association proposes and seconds the presidential candidate.

First published: 24 September 2015, 11:40 IST
 
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