Shantanu Guha Ray

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‘If the Government Wants, it can Cancel Modi’

Narayanaswami Srinivasan, 65, is in the middle of several controversies, befitting his status as newly anointed president of the BCCI , the richest, most powerful and most-pilloried cricket board in the world. u000a u000a He has rejected demands for an inquiry into India 's disastrous England tour, sought legal advice on how to resolve the Kochi Tuskers crisis, and parried countless calls from Pakistan Cricket Board president Ijaz Bhatt seeking a renewal of Indo-Pakistan cricket ties. u000a u000a The chairman of India Cements which, in turn, is the prime investor in IPL team Chennai Super Kings , Srinivasan is a chemical engineer from the Illinois Institute of Technology as well as a chartered accountant. As he sits in the Chennai office of India Cements, which has a turnover of Rs 3,800 crore, surrounded by pictures of grandchildren, a clay model of Mahatma Gandhi and a miniature charkha on his table, he is determined to change the course of BCCI in his three years as president. u000a u000a "I hate this middle path where you have to please everybody. The Lalit Modi issue has been hanging fire, it has to end. In the International Cricket Council ( ICC ), I would like members to strongly take up various cricketing issues and involve associate members as well. Let's expand, let the best man lead ICC," he says. With fewer hours devoted to golf- he used to play daily as compared to his current weekly cycle- he has also dropped out as president of the All India Chess Federation so that he can devote more time to BCCI. u000a He has enough on his plate. The finance ministry claims the board owes it Rs 160 crore in service tax on IPL franchisee fees and sale of advertisement space in 2010. Worse, his one-time mentor and former BCCI president, A.C. Muthiah, has been seeking an injunction from the Supreme Court against Srinivasan holding top slots in the BCCI and an IPL team. The courts have refused to restrain Srinivasan who, as a matter of routine, maintains that he does not own Chennai Super Kings and that it's run by a team of professionals. u000a u000a From district vice-president of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association in 2001 to his big break in 2005, when he became treasurer in the Sharad Pawar-led BCCI, he has managed to steer clear of controversy until now. Excerpts from an interview with India Today deputy editor Shantanu Guha Ray. u000a u000a Q. Did you check your stars before assuming the role of BCCI president? u000a u000a A. (Laughs) I did but cannot share the name of my astrologer, nor what he told me about my future. u000a u000a Q. List three of your immediate priorities as board president. u000a u000a A. I want to focus on the development of the game, greater accountability and transparency. There is a fourth priority: The public must know the truth about former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi. It must also know that the BCCI is an honest body. u000a u000a Q. Why is the BCCI not pushing for Modi's extradition? He is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax department on charges of accepting kickbacks in IPL television deals, rigging bids for teams and openly flouting BCCI guidelines. u000a u000a A. He is mocking us from England with his tweets. He is making a mockery of our judicial system. He thinks he can still control cricket with his tweets and blogs. I cannot issue summons, I do not run a court in this country. There are investigating agencies which are pursuing these cases against him. There are courts which will take note if summons are being avoided. If the Government wants, his passport will be cancelled. The recent Supreme Court judgment rejected Modi's demand for a change in the BCCI Disciplinary Committee probing him. u000a u000a Q. But the Kochi issue is hanging fire and the team has been suspended because of payment defaults. There are rumours that some of the players could be put up for auction. u000a u000a A. We did what was written in the rule book. The team was repeatedly warned and asked to pay its dues. Now, the Kochi Tuskers management has threatened legal action. As far as the BCCI is concerned, Kochi is out of IPL. The case needs to be resolved. I know what you will ask next. There's no personal agenda here. We had issues with Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab but those were sorted out. u000a u000a Q. What are your thoughts on ICC's recent efforts to revisit the governance of the game? There are demands that associate members be given a larger say. u000a A. I am not in favour of regulations which give only a few the upper hand. They need to be changed. After all, members own the ICC and have to play an integral part in running the game. u000a Q. Do you think the ICC's rotation system of appointing a president should be done away with? u000a A. It's my view that the best person should run ICC. We can work out a system where professionals take charge. u000a Q. Does this mean the president has to be from India? u000a A. No, I didn't say that. He can be from any member country. u000a Q. Is the BCCI behind the ICC's call for depoliticisation of cricket because of the mooted National Sports Development Bill that seeks to rein in sports bodies in India? u000a A. There should be depoliticisation of cricket. But I was not on the executive board when this decision was taken. I think it would be grossly unfair to lay the blame at BCCIs doorstep. u000a Q. Politicians like Rajiv Shukla, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Anurag Thakur are holding crucial posts in the BCCI. It appears as if you are seeking a political solution to what has become a political problem (the sports ministry's demand to bring BCCI under its control) in sports? u000a A. Scan the list of BCCI's state bodies and you will see loads of politicians, except in the south where people associated with cricket run the show. So, appointing politicians is not a recent phenomenon and I am certainly not doing it to fortify my defence. u000a Q. The parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in 2010 asked the Government to investigate FEMA and FIPB violations by IPL franchisees. Will the BCCI cooperate? u000a A. Aren't we cooperating? All papers pertaining to IPL during Modi's tenure were handed over to the investigating agencies in 2010. u000a Q. The Indian team is riddled with injury-related problems. You lost as many as eight players on the England tour. Already short of pacers, the batting mainstay of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman is unlikely to last your three-year term. How do you propose to reinforce the side? u000a A. We have a strong bench. That's why we could send a team to the West Indies and survive the England tour. This is cricket, not child's play. It's an ordeal by fire. Those in it will have to perform if they wish to replace legends like Sachin and Rahul. u000a Q. Do you think the huge sums of money involved in cricket distract attention from other sports? u000a A. That is an unfair charge. Corporations in India put in money because they find the game of cricket an attractive investment. You cannot blame BCCI for the decline of other sports. On the contrary, the BCCI continues to help games like football in India. u000a Q. Finally, when will you play a series against Pakistan? u000a A. This needs a political answer. Please get it from Delhi. u000a Reproduced From India Today. © 2011. LMIL. All rights reserved.

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