As if towering over the game and being the most powerful body in world cricket wasn’t enough, it has now come to light that a “South Indian lobby” also resorted to arm-twisting tactics on behalf of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and its president N. Srinivasan’s when they were challenged by a lowly administrator from Bihar.
Aditya Verma, secretary of the non-recognised Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), had challenged the might of Srinivasan and the BCCI by filing a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court over allegations of betting and fixing in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
A day after the court declared the two-member probe committee set up the BCCI to probe the charges as “illegal and unconstitutional”, jeopardising Srinivasan’s return to the BCCI’s top post, Verma revealed he was offered all kinds of inducements and even threatened to withdraw the case.
The court’s order came just a day after the panel submitted its report to the BCCI’s interim chief Jagmohan Dalmiya, giving a clean chit to Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath, the Chennai Super Kings franchise owned by India Cements, of which Srinivasan is MD and CEO, the Rajasthan Royals franchise and its co-owner Raj Kundra.
The BCCI had, on May 28, set up a probe panel consisting of two retired high court judges—T.Jayaram Chouta and R.Balasubramanian-to look into the charges against these parties.
This was done before Srinivasan had stepped aside from his post.
“A particular South Indian lobby tried to bribe me to withdraw the case,” Verma told Mail Today on Wednesday. “It offered me many things, including money, but I did not buckle under any pressure and continued my fight for cleansing Indian cricket of corruption. They told me that I would benefit a lot if I withdrew the case. They also tried to bribe me in many other ways.”
He, however, refused to divulge the names of the people who tried to bribe him to withdraw the case, saying the matter was sub-judice. Then, Verma said, the lobby tried to intimidate him by telling him he was putting the career of his young cricketer son in jeopardy by fighting against the BCCI.
“They asked me. Why are you playing with the future of the career of your cricketer son?”. However, Verma, whose son plays under-19 cricket, refused to give up his fight. “I have been fighting single-handedly against the BCCI for the legitimate rights of the Bihar cricket for the past three years,” he said. “I am not one to give in to any kind of pressure.” Verma said this was the first time when the BCCI had tasted defeat in a court case.
“The BCCI has become very arrogant,” he said.
Verma said his intention was to restore glory to the game of cricket, which had come under the scanner following widespread allegations of corruption, betting and spot- fixing in the IPL. “I had moved court basically to get the taint removed from the sport,” he said.
Prem Ranjan Patel, president of the CAB, said the corruption and betting scandals had left the genuine cricket fans across the country and abroad demoralised.
“Our association decided to challenge the decision of the BCCI, led by its president N. Srinivasan, to set up a probe committee to look into the betting allegations even though his own son-in-law was among the accused,” Patel said. “We felt that this probe panel would not be able to unearth the truth since it was against the principles of natural justice.” Patel, who is also a Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Suryagarha constituency in Bihar, said the court’s verdict vindicated the CAB’s stand. He also alleged that Srinivasan was responsible for Bihar not getting affiliation to the BCCI.