9:21 pm - Wednesday November 4, 2015

Race for BCCI president gathers pace

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The race for the post of president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has begun to gather pace with opposition growing to a possible bid from N. Srinivasan, who had stepped aside, to hang on to the position.

The Supreme Court’s judgment on Thursday has put a question mark on support for Mr. Srinivasan even among his loyalists. According to some senior Board functionaries whom The Hindu spoke to, the trend points to a change at the top with an aim to improve the image of the Board.

Many names have been doing the rounds for the president’s post, including those of Rajiv Shukla, Jagmohan Dalmiya, M.P. Pandove and Shivlal Yadav, along with Anurag Thakur, who is seen as the face of the young brigade in the Board and the BJP, and Anirudh Chowdhry. One Board official was not averse to former Board presidents I.S. Bindra and A.C. Muthiah being in the fray.

Asked if he would accept the offer, Mr. Dalmiya, a former president and seasoned Board official, said: “It is a million dollar question. It is not in my hands. My becoming a president is a hypothetical question. I have to wait and see in what form the offer comes. I am not dying for it. There is no doubt this is an hour of huge crisis for the Board and we should all rise to tackle it. We have done it in the past.”

It is the East Zone’s turn to nominate a candidate for the president’s post and Mr. Dalmiya commands support in his zone. Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley is expected to play a decisive role in identifying the candidate for the Board president

“He [Jaitley] would have been the best man for the post but then he has declared he has no time and interest for the job. Would he support Rajiv Shukla, a Congress politician, or Sharad Pawar?” wondered a veteran Board official.

Mr. Pawar is said to command eight votes, the same as Mr. Srinivasan. Board observers, however, point to the fact that the eight votes the government can swing are likely to hold the key.

“It is a triangle that throws the options of BJP plus Srinivasan, Pawar plus BJP and Pawar plus Srinivasan. Nothing can be ruled out in the current scenario,” a source in the Board emphasised.

The Board is not inclined to encourage any uncertainty as far as the top officials’ election is concerned. “Support for Srinivasan is not assured even from those who stood by him the last time. The momentum is gaining as far as clean administration is concerned. The Board needs to give a strong message to its followers that it is a body which is best qualified to promote and conduct the game in the country. It is time the Board won the confidence of the public and the sponsors by taking a positive step. This can come with handing over of power to a fresh face at the top,” asserted a Board official in the know of things.

Though Mr. Srinivasan enjoys the support of South and East zones, equations can change in the coming days. “Mr. Srinivasan believes the Supreme Court has allowed him to contest. But would he have the support from within the Board,” asked a Board official.

Then there is the tricky question of Mr. Srinivasan being able to divest his interest in the Chennai Super Kings in time to be able to contest. And that, many insiders believe, is not something that can be easily accomplished within six weeks — the time given by the Supreme Court to the BCCI to hold elections.

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