Former BCCI president Shashank Manohar on Saturday made two explosive claims that would indicate that the appointment of Jagmohan Dalmiya as interim boss was a clever strategy to help N. Srinivasan remain in control of the Board, and all steps taken recently were illegal as per the constitution.
Manohar, a former president of the Vidarbha Cricket Association and a leading Nagpur-based lawyer, said that he had told BCCI vice- president Arun Jaitley in clear terms before the June 2 working committee meeting that he was not interested in taking charge of the Board on an ad-hoc basis.
Manohar, widely known for his clean image and straightforwardness, bluntly declared that all steps that have been taken since then can’t have legal sanctity as they are contrary to the BCCI constitution.
“Maine unko clearly bata diya tha ki mere ko usmein aane mein koi interest nahi hai ; adhoc [basis] per main aaunga nahi (I had told him clearly that I’m not interested in joining and I will not come back on an adhoc basis). Yeh maine unko pahle hi bata diya tha (I told him this before the meeting),” Manohar, who on Friday returned home from a holiday, told Mail Today. Asked if he had told Jaitley that he wouldn’t be interested before the working committee met in Chennai, Manohar emphasised: “Correct, correct.” What possible reasons could have compelled Jaitley, a leading lawyer who is well versed with the nuts and bolts of the BCCI constitution, to suggest Manohar’s name?
“I don’t know. You have to ask him now. I can’t answer all these questions. If somebody takes my name behind my back, what can I do for that?” said Manohar, who was BCCI head from 2008 to 2011.
After the meeting on June 2, Jaitley said that he had proposed Manohar’s name “without taking his consent”. An official, who attended the meeting in Chennai, said he suspected that the events at the conclave unfolded as per a well-devised plan. “My suspicion emanates from two things. One, that Jaitley suggested Manohar’s name and in almost the same breath he also proposed Dalmiya’s name. Some members rejected Manohar’s name as he was not even associated with a state association,” he said.
“Second, the amazing quickness with which Dalmiya agreed to accept the responsibility. It was very unnatural. The moment Jaitley stopped speaking, and even before the 24-member house could discuss the merits of Dalmiya’s candidature, Dalmiya said that he would try to do the job with the best of his ability. That raises suspicion,” the official said.
Interestingly, Jaitley was not present in Chennai and was connected to the meeting by an audio-visual link from a five-star hotel in New Delhi. BCCI joint secretary Anurag Thakur, who had convened the meeting, too inexplicably chose to skip the meeting, and sat next to Jaitley for the video link, as did Rajeev Shukla, as secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association.
Manohar also emphasised that the appointment of Dalmiya as President and Sanjay Patel as secretary, would be void as per the BCCI constitution which has no such provision.
“What they have done is, according to me, incorrect,” Manohar said. “Everything, according to me, is not right.” At the working committee meeting, Srinivasan refused to resign but offered to step aside till the probe into his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan’s alleged involvement in the IPL betting scandal was complete.
Some officials within the BCCI suspected something fishy in the entire drama.
“Manohar saying that he was not interested has exposed everyone involved in the drama. When he had told Jaitley that he was not interested, then why did he suggest Manohar’s name? It looks like everything was pre-planned,” said one official, who attended the meeting.
He also suspects a larger game plan. “Next year it’s the turn of the East Zone to nominate a candidate for the post of BCCI president, either from within the zone or outside, at the end of Srinivasan’s three-year reign (provided he lasts the distance). Many people say that Jaitley could be nominated by Dalmiya, who is the president of the Cricket Association of Bengal and still controls the state associations in that zone.”