Before the week is out, N. Srinivasan will be back in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president’s chair. And hardly anyone who follows cricket would be surprised, given that the entire charade that took place over the last two months was engineered in such a way that he would emerge unscathed.
Of course, he couldn’t have done it without the complicity and support of Jagmohan Dalmiya, who took over as the interim chief while Srinivasan ‘ stepped aside’ from the day-to-day functioning of the Board. As Mail Today reported on Monday, Dalmiya was just the figurehead while Srinivasan continued to take all the important decisions behind the scenes.
The commission hand-picked to investigate the spot-fixing scandal in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League found “no concrete evidence” that either Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, the Chennai Super Kings, the Rajasthan Royals or its coowner Raj Kundra had indulged in fixing.
And with that sham of a clean chit, a hush descended over all the off-the-record voices of officials who had been clamouring for Srinivasan’s removal as Board president when the scandal broke out in May.
The sports ministry reacted strongly to the hogwash report, with secretary P. K. Deb stating: “The BCCI might have cleared them [all the parties of fixing] but I think the Board should wait for the police probe to get over."After the Working Committee meeting in Kolkata that announced the clean chit, as soon as criticism arose calling it an eyewash, Board vice- president Niranjan Shah rushed to the report’s defence that just made it sound like the BCCI was above the law of the land.
“I think we can’t depend on the police report as we had already constituted a commission and whatever the commission said is final,” was his startling reply.
Dalmiya, too, claimed “nothing would be swept under the carpet” when that was the precise job Srinivasan had picked him to do.
It’s a credit to Srinivasan’s manoeuvering skills and his absolute power in the Board that despite the multitude of controversies that have surrounded him over the years, his position has never really been seriously threatened.
The fact that he is concurrently the managing director and CEO of India Cements, which owns CSK, the president of the national board and the president of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association has never got in his way.
A conversation with any BCCI official invariably leads to a mention of the Board’s constitution, which is always talked about in hushed and reverential tones.
And yet, Srinivasan has toyed with it whenever it has suited his fancy— be it when he got it amended to facilitate the purchase of the Chennai IPL franchise while holding the office of BCCI treasurer, or making a sitting president eligible to contest for another term.
In the case of his ‘stepping aside’ and installing Dalmiya as interim chief, the constitution was completely ignored. All the procedures were overlooked, something that former Board president I. S. Bindra kept pointing out throughout the process. Even when the elected secretary Sanjay Jagdale and treasurer Ajay Shirke resigned on moral grounds, their replacements Sanjay Patel and Ravi Sawant were summarily selected without due procedure.
The probe panel itself was shrouded in mystery. Srinivasan initially promised that it would consist of two members of the BCCI’s disciplinary committee and one independent member, but without a meeting of the IPL Governing Council, a panel comprising two retired Madras High Court judges and Jagdale was named. Then Jagdale resigned, and instead of the panel being reconstituted, it was shortened to just the two justices — T. Jayaram Chouta and R. Balasubramanian.
Gurunath, who had hitherto appeared in dozens of official functions — including auctions and matches — as the CSK ‘team principal’, and called himself the same on his own Twitter handle, was suddenly downgraded to ‘one of the members (honorary) of the management team of the Chennai Super Kings’ by India Cements. And when Srinivasan was asked why he was allowed into the dressing rooms and dugouts bearing a team owner’s card, his stunning reply was that he was an ‘enthusiast’. Now, this panel has exonerated Gurunath — who was arrested and then released on bail by Mumbai Police — of fixing but alludes to his involvement in betting. The question is when someone who moved in such exalted circles was ‘betting’, what were the chances that he didn’t use the privileged information he had access to? The process of the panel arriving at its conclusions is also mysterious.
It’s no secret that the BCCI has been resisting all attempts to get it recognised as a national sports federation and thus bring it under the ambit of the sports ministry, the Right to Information Act, and the proposed sports bill. And with Srinivasan now virtually back in his chair, its big bully act is likely to only get stronger.
Srinivasan's sham works like a charmBy Shreyas Sharma | Mail Today – Tue 30 Jul, 2013 9:14 AM IST
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