Indian domestic news July 15, 2011

Vilasrao Deshmukh is new MCA president

Vilasrao Deshmukh, the former Maharashtra chief minister, has defeated Dilip Vengsarkar, the former India captain, in the 77th presidential elections of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), continuing the two-decade long trend of a politician heading the body. Deshmukh's margin of victory was 47 votes; he received 182 to Vengsarkar's 135.

Of the 329 members supposed to vote in the secret ballot, six did not turn up, three others did not vote and three votes were invalid. Deshmukh arrived at the Wankhede Stadium late in the evening, after the result had been announced. Vengsarkar, who had spoken at the MCA's annual general meeting ahead of the polls, was not to be seen after his defeat. The result was in contrast to the outcome of the Karnataka State Cricket Association election in 2010, when a player-dominated group led by Anil Kumble swept the polls.

Deshmukh said later that he would use the experience of Vengsarkar, who is part of the MCA's cricket improvement committee. "We will try to use him [Vengsarkar] in the best possible manner. He is an asset to the association," he said. "He is a very senior cricketer. With his help we can develop more cricketers for Mumbai."

Both Vengsarkar and Deshmukh were MCA vice-presidents for eight years and their agendas were similar: the upgradation of maidan cricket and the development of university, college and school cricket. Deshmukh contested the presidency as an independent candidate, but received support from the formidable alliance of the Sharad Pawar and Bal Mahaddalkar group.

Pawar, who was the MCA president from 2001, had intended to run for re-election but was ineligible because his permanent address is in Baramati, a town near Pune. Clause 17 of the MCA constitution states that only a resident of Mumbai or Thane is eligible to be president. Pawar attended the annual general meeting but left mid-way because he had to attend a federal government meeting in Delhi on Saturday. Before his departure, he asked Vengsarkar, "the senior vice-president", to take charge of the rest of the AGM.

Though Pawar wasn't present during the voting, his influence was. The events at the BCCI headquarters, which is in the same complex as the MCA, resembled a political rally instead of a cricket body's elections. Even the monsoon did not dissuade the politically inclined from wearing their white, starched cotton attire.

As the evening lengthened, supporters started speaking in hushed tones about Deshmukh's lead and soon those voices grew louder. Mammoth garlands were brought out of the boots of cars in anticipation of Deshmukh's arrival.

The first cheers, however, were heard from Vijay Patil's camp. Patil, an independent candidate, had contested for one of the two vice-president's posts. He runs the DY Patil Sports Academy and Stadium, which hosted the IPL finals in 2008 and 2010.

BCCI's chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty, an MCA office-bearer for 25 years and part of the Pawar panel, was elected as the second vice-president. Ravi Savant won the treasurer's post, while Nitin Dalal and PV Shetty were elected joint secretaries, replacing former India opener Lalchand Rajput, who ran for vice-president, and Hemant Waingankar.

Rajput was one of the prominent losers, having served as secretary thrice, but none of his terms were consecutive. Former India players Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Karsan Ghavri contested for posts on the managing committee as part of Vengsarkar's panel but failed to get sufficient votes.

Only three members of Vengsarkar's panel - Chandrakant Pandit (former India wicketkeeper), Nadim Memon (a prominent maidan curator, who had looked after the Wankhede for three Tests) and Mayank Khandwala - were elected to the managing committee. "It is a defeat for sportsmen," Memon said.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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