India news July 12, 2011

Vengsarkar v Deshmukh in Mumbai elections

The 2011 race for president of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), arguably India's pre-eminent state association, will mix politics with cricket as a former chief minister of Maharashtra state goes up against a former India captain. The final nominations for the polls, to be held on July 15, are in and current association vice-presidents, Vilasrao Deshmukh, who has led Maharashtra twice and belongs to India's Congress party, and Dilip Vengsarkar, who played 116 Tests and captained India from 1987 to 1989, have declared their interest in the top job.

The current MCA president, Sharad Pawar, who is also the ICC president, had originally intended to seek re-election but his nomination was withdrawn after it was discovered that he was not a resident of Mumbai or Thane. Pawar, who is also India's agriculture minister, had declared he was a native of Baramati, a district in Maharashtra, during the last national election in 2009 and clause 17 of the MCA constitution states that only a resident of Mumbai or Thane is eligible to be MCA president (Pawar has been president since 2001).

Following his withdrawal, Pawar's group, together with former vice-president Bal Mahaddalkar's group, threw their support behind Deshmukh in a bid to oppose Vengsarkar. "We will not field any candidate for the MCA president's post," Ravi Sawant, who heads the Mahaddalkar group, told DNA. "Instead, we will back Vilasrao Deshmukh. Cricketers retire from the game after they turn 30 or 40. We need professionals and good administrators who can run the office smoothly."

Deshmukh also faced questions over his proof of residence, with one member of Vengsarkar's group, Nadim Memon, challenging his nomination on grounds that Deshmukh's listed permanent address was a different district in the state. When the election officials nevertheless allowed the nomination, Memon formally appealed to Pawar as president and was willing to go to court over the matter. However, Pawar convinced Memon not to contest Deshmukh's right to stand for election and allow for a "sporting contest".

"Mr. Pawar called me and said that if this happens, it will give the MCA a bad name," Memon told ESPNcricinfo. "He said 'we want a sporting election'. He requested me as president ... I am a sporting man so I accepted. The matter is now closed."

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

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