Dalmiya camp buy time to fight another day
"It has been resolved by the members that elections take place on or before November 30," Ranbir Singh Mahendra, the current BCCI president, told reporters. "We will announce the new dates shortly. All pending matters will be taken up on a priority basis. Work in the Board will go on as usual." But it was anything but life as usual on the day.
The Sharad Pawar-led opposition was visibly disgruntled on many occasions during the day, the Jagmohan Dalmiya camp caused proceedings to be stalled more than once, objecting to the appointment of two additional observers to oversee proceedings. "These are all just delay tactics. This is like the losing side breathing their last. If they were going to win do you think they would be doing all this?" asked Farooq Abdullah, president of the Jammu & Kashmir cricket association, which nominated Sharad Pawar for the post of president, halfway through the day.
But Dalmiya was not short of words either. "Who has made the arrangements for the additional two observers? Who has paid for their airfares and arranged their stay in this hotel?" he asked, hinting, not so subtly, that the observers might be biased to the opposition.
In the end the observers - two former Chief Justices of India no less - had nothing to do. The Kolkata High Court quashed its earlier ruling on the need for these two gentlemen to be present, and they were sent back to Delhi.
At the end of some heated debating and wrangling, details of which will no doubt emerge over the next day or two, it was decided that the AGM be adjourned and reconvened at a later date. Exactly what the Dalmiya camp hope to achieve by this postponement is unclear - but if it does one thing, it buys them time. Reports from Kolkata filtering in the wee hours of Friday suggested that Pawar had secured the numbers he needed, and that as many as 20 people had signed a petition asking that the AGM proceed as swiftly as possible. This was a show of strength from the Pawar camp, and one that would have caught the attention of Dalmiya and Co.
In the end, though, it does appear that a compromise of sorts is being reached. Sharad Pawar and N Srinivasan, two of the prime movers against Mahendra and Dalmiya, were elected to the marketing committee of the BCCI, a prestigious and powerful arm of the board. It's worth noting that Srinivasan, who was originally the chairman of the marketing committee, was dropped from the body after a heated working committee meeting in Trivandrum in June this year.
But all compromises can only be viewed with utmost caution in these fractious times, for there was plenty of talk of an agreement between the two warring factions in the board in the lead-up to this election. "A good consensus was worked out 15 days back. It was decided that Mahendra will continue for another year following which Pawar would take over the reigns in 2006," Abdullah told reporters. "The Dalmiya group initially agreed to it but later went back on its word and said that they wanted Mahendra to be in the post till he completed his three-year tenure." That clearly fell through and there's no saying how the peace will hold out till the day the elections actually take place.