Srinivasan organises three-day 'outing' for BCCI members
With the BCCI unanimously stamping former IPL chairman Lalit Modi's expulsion in Wednesday's special general meeting (SGM), the next big focus for its president N Srinivasan is the BCCI's annual general meeting (AGM) in Chennai on Sunday. He set his gameplan in motion by organising a three-day "outing" for BCCI members at the nearby resort town of Mahabalipuram, which is being attended by around a third of the officials.
Despite the SGM verdict - where the board was united in getting rid of Modi - Srinivasan realises it will have little bearing on the AGM and that the AGM may not be as smooth a ride for him to get an extension for a year. Despite him having blocked the south zone lobby, which would mean the number game won't even come into equation even if either of his two predecessors - Shashank Manohar and Sharad Pawar - throws his hat in the ring, Srinivasan isn't willing to take any chances.
As a result, he had offered a three-day "outing" at an exotic resort in Mahabalipuram, a historic city an hour's drive away from Chennai. The reason cited from the Srinivasan camp was since "many members were going to stay back in Chennai between the two meetings anyway". Had all the members accepted the junket, the move may have been construed as an attempt to put high-profile voters under house arrest ahead of a crucial motion, an event that's not a rarity in the Indian political set-up.
However, sensing the manner in which the move might be misinterpreted, and to exert pressure on Srinivasan in case two south zone members defect from the president, some of the members decided to make alternative plans. "Around one third unit members would have gone to Mahabalipuram. Some of us have been planning to go and seek blessings at Tirupati, while some are going to stay back in Chennai only," a BCCI voter who has decided against travelling to Mahabalipuram said.
At the same time, many of the key figures in the BCCI have either returned to their respective hometowns or preferred not to attend the SGM. While Jagmohan Dalmiya (Cricket Association of Bengal president) and Niranjan Shah (BCCI vice-president) decided to return to Chennai on the eve of AGM since they had their respective businesses to be taken care of, Arun Jaitley (BCCI vice-president and Delhi & District Cricket Association chief), Jyotiraditya Scindia (Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association president) and Anil Kumble (Karnataka State Cricket Association president) deputed their representative instead of attending the SGM in person.
Even if either Manohar or Pawar - neither of whom have made their intent to contest the presidential election against Srinivasan public so far - decides to contest against Srinivasan, unless the Supreme Court on Friday bars him from contesting the elections, the Tamil Nadu strongman is set for a year's extension in the BCCI top job.
The BCCI regulations require at least two members from the zone of the incumbent president to support a presidential candidate from any other zone. And with Srinivasan having garnered support from all the six south zone affiliates - Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Hyderabad, Kerala, Karnataka and Goa - it looks like there's no way to resist his supremacy, unless Pawar manages to turn the tide around at the last minute.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo