BCCI elections November 28, 2005

Match on

As of now, Sharad Pawar seems to the frontrunner for the top job © Getty Images

And the battle lines have been redrawn. After the aborted Annual General Meeting of September 23, the warring factions have once again come head to head. The venue is the same - Kolkata, and the opposing chiefs no different. Ranbir Singh Mahendra, heavily backed by Jagmohan Dalmiya is doing his best to hold on to the post of president, but all indications point to Sharad Pawar, the president of the Mumbai Cricket Association and former defence minister, taking the job.

Goutam Dasgupta is the Dalmiya group's nominee for secretary while Niranjan Shah is contesting the same post from the Pawar group. N Srinivasan (Pawar group) and Jyoti Bajpai fight it out for the post of treasurer, while the joint secretary's post sees a match up between MP Pandove (Pawar group) and Brijesh Patel. All these nominations have been put forward to TS Krishna Murthy, the observer, and he will scrutinise and accept or reject them before the actual election takes place.

While it is next to impossible to predict which way the voters will swing in the last moment, as hectic parleys are likely to take place till the very moment the election begins on Tuesday 11.30am, one can safely say that the going will not be easy for the Dalmiya group. If various interested and suddenly talkative sources are to be believed, Pawar has already been promised at least 20 of the 30 votes, and that there's a strong chance of more defections once a clear leader emerges.

The one twist that happened in the day was unconfirmed reports filtering in that the Pondicherry Cricket Association had approached the Supreme Court and successfully won the right to vote in the elections. This then meant that the vote of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association would be made in a sealed envelope and only revealed on December 12.

What has caused the Dalmiya faction to rally around is the ruling that some members that traditionally vote in favour of Dalmiya - Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and District Cricket Association and National Cricket Club for example - were allowed to vote, while there was a strong chance that they would be restrained from doing so. Yet, this should not be construed as a major victory for the Dalmiya camp, as they have a stiff battle ahead of them to make up the numbers.

With 31 votes including the chairman's vote, the Pawar camp needs 16 votes to guarantee them victory. If Pawar's opponent was anyone but Dalmiya, punters would safely put their money against the ruling faction. But Dalmiya is not a man to take lightly when elections come around. He knows every loophole in the constitution of the board, and is unafraid to exploit them when push comes to shove. And the opposition camp knows this. Despite some strong proclamations that they already have the numbers they need, work has not ceased. They have set up base camp at the Oberoi Grand hotel, staying far away from the Taj Bengal where the observer is stationed. There will not be any let off, and Pawar's arrival by a private jet at 8pm will only mean increased activity. Till the verdict is signed and delivered, this lot won't rest.

How they could vote

Pawar 1 Andhra, 2 Assam, 3 Association of Indian Universities, 4 Baroda, 5 Mumbai, 6 Cricket Club of India, 7 Goa, 8 Himachal Pradesh, 9 Hyderabad, 10 Jammu and Kashmir, 11 Madhya Pradesh, 12 Maharashtra, 13 Punjab, 14 Railways, 15 Rajasthan, 16 Saurashtra, 17 Services, 18 Tamil Nadu, 19 Tripura, 20 Vidarbha.

Mahendra 1 Bengal, 2 Delhi and District Cricket Association, 3 Haryana, 4 Karnataka, 5 Kerala, 6 National Cricket Club.

Those that could swing either way 1 Jharkhand, 2 Gujarat, 3 Orissa, 4 Uttar Pradesh.

Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo