India news November 19, 2013

RCA poll glitch stalls Modi comeback

Lalit Modi's plan of returning as a cricket administrator in India, via the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) elections, has been put on hold because of confusion over the election dates. The association is split into two factions, each of which has announced an election date, and the dispute over who controls the RCA is now being contested in various courts across Rajasthan.

Modi had been banned for life by the BCCI from all cricket matters in India but the ban was stayed by the Rajasthan High Court in October, following which he announced his intention to run for the RCA president's post. His appeal before the court exploited a technicality - since the RCA is governed by the Rajasthan Sports Act, the BCCI ban cannot be applied to him - and the court agreed with his contention.

The incumbent, CP Joshi, then advanced the election date from December 7 to November 24 while the opposing faction announced it would hold the election on November 23. Those dates, however, are now a matter for the courts to decide.

Modi said his decision to make a comeback - he became the RCA president in 2005 - was because of the way Joshi had ignored cricket in Rajasthan. "Cricket has taken a beating in Rajasthan. My opponent has not done anything for the game. I was hoping as a federal minister he [Joshi] would have done a lot but I am disappointed. We had worked very, very hard and it is about time we start getting our act together," Modi told ESPNcricinfo from London.

He said he'd been in touch with various district associations within Rajasthan and was expecting healthy support on the elections. "I have good support from various associations and we are looking forward to the elections on November 23 and 24."

Modi's ally in the current campaign is Sanjay Dixit, a senior bureaucrat who had helped Joshi defeat him in a bitterly fought RCA election in 2009. Dixit, who was elected RCA secretary, was a vocal critic of Modi's autocratic style of functioning but he and Joshi too fell out. Dixit was then replaced by KK Sharma as the officiating secretary at RCA.

On Monday, Dixit issued a press release pointing out to an order passed by the RCA election officer that stated that he had returned to function as the secretary while deciding to "divest KK Sharma of all functions with effect from October 28". Dixit himself announced the elections on November 24.

Asked why he had decided to join hands with Dixit, Modi said both men were on the same page as far as cricket was concerned. "Sanjay and I were together as far as cricket is concerned. Then we had differences on certain issues. But he is a strong cricket administrator without doubt, which we had seen when I had left and he came in briefly at RCA. But he had a difference of opinion with Joshi and he was disappointed by the non-performance of the RCA," Modi said.

Modi and Dixit might be positive about their alliance but there is no clarity and certainty about the poll dates. The biggest hurdle surrounds the legitimacy of the list of candidates and voters. There are 33 voters, one from each of the affiliated district units of RCA. Even though both Joshi and Modi are in both lists, their alleged attempt to push their own supporters into the final lists has only worsened the situation.

"What most of the voters have been demanding is a free and fair election and I am ready for that," Dixit said. "But the other party is not agreeing to, which has caused confusion. The voter list is being changed by them to suit themselves and it has resulted in multiple litigations. In a field of 33, if you change seven voters, it is as good as sealing the fate of the election."

The Sharma faction's response was similar as it blamed the Modi-Dixit combine for creating the mess.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor