Srinivasan re-elected with tighter grip on BCCI
N Srinivasan was re-elected BCCI's president for another year, as expected, and cemented his hold on the board with the appointment of his allies to key positions. The other big winner at the BCCI's 84th annual general meeting in Chennai on Sunday was Ranjib Biswal, the Odisha Cricket Association president, who was named the new chairman of the IPL governing council. (Click here for the full list of appointments.)
Srinivasan had been under pressure for the past few days, after his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was chargesheeted in the IPL corruption scandal, and there had been question marks over his immediate future following the Supreme Court directive to him to stay away from the job, should he win, till he is cleared by it. However, events in Chennai sent out the unambiguous message that he remained as powerful as ever.
"I have won unopposed but I am not taking charge," Srinivasan told IANS. "I have asked the new office bearers to take charge. I am awaiting the Supreme Court order. There are a lot of things on me now."
New vice-president Rajiv Shukla sounded more triumphant. "Everybody was elected unopposed," he said. "Mr Srinivasan chaired the meeting. The meeting had to take place with the head (who is the new president). It's not contempt of court. He will only take charge after the fresh Supreme Court guidelines."
The daily work will be handled by Srinivasan's close aide, Sanjay Patel, confirmed today as secretary, a post he had been handling on an interim basis since the IPL scandal broke out in June. The job had so far been assigned to Jagmohan Dalmiya but Patel's ascension to a permanent role makes him eligible for this position.
Srinivasan's re-election came about via the amendment to the BCCI constitution that required any challenger to the presidential post to be supported from the incumbent's zone - south zone, in Srinivasan's case. Once he had managed to get all of the BCCI's six southern units on his side, his election was all but certain and he was the only candidate to have filed his papers on Saturday. After that, it was a matter of pleasing all his supporters who had stood beside him during what has been a tumultuous phase not only for Srinivasan but for Indian cricket as well.
While all the major posts in BCCI - secretary Patel, treasurer Anirudh Chaudhary and joint secretary Anurag Thakur - went to those from the Srinivasan lobby, key personnel from each of the six south zone units were handed an influential position. Anil Kumble (Karnataka) and Shivlal Yadav (Hyderabad) retained their positions as technical committee chairman and vice-president, respectively; G Ganga Raju (Andhra) was appointed the finance committee chairman, TC Mathew (Kerala) replaced Biswal as the NCA board chairman, while Vinod Phadke (Goa) will be heading the media committee for the next year.
The BCCI has traditionally followed a system of appeasing all of its chief's favourites. However, most of its earlier regimes, including the first two years of Srinivasan, have seen even dissenting voices being accommodated to a certain extent. However, the manner in which Srinivasan has managed to get rid of all those who have opposed him or the board's functioning during his rule underlines his reputation of being a shrewd operator.
Right from Jyotiraditya Scindia, one of the youngest federal ministers, to Niranjan Shah, who has been involved in the BCCI for four decades to Vidarbha's Sudhir Dabir who was the central zone vice-president, Srinivasan has sidelined all those who had given a hint of opposing him. The BCCI structure in itself allows the four principal office bearers - president, secretary, joint secretary and treasurer - to dictate terms. However, Srinivasan ensured that the likes of Shah and Dabir, who were closer to the opposing Sharad Pawar-Shashank Manohar faction than him, were replaced as vice-presidents despite the post not holding much significance in the BCCI structure.
"As per the constitution, the board has conducted the AGM," Shah said. "Srinivasan chaired it. It is part of the democratic process. It's all about majority. I hold no grudge against anyone. It's not necessary [for a vice-president to seek re-election]."
With the credibility of the IPL at stake and the next edition likely to clash with union elections, it was a challenge for Srinivasan to rope in an IPL chairman who could understand the game as well as deal with politicians. Besides being in Srinivasan's good books, Biswal, a former MP and a former India Under-19 captain, fits the bill on both the counts. Through Kumble, Srinivasan also managed to rope in former great Gundappa Viswanath on the IPL governing council to lend it more credibility from the fans' perspective.
A day after his appointment, Biswal told The Telegraph that he wanted to put the focus back on cricket in the IPL: "I'm aware that a lot of things happened in the last edition of the IPL, but I've just been appointed the chairman. First, I'd like to meet colleagues on the governing council and get their views. After that, the operational team of the IPL... A road map will be drawn where cricket is the priority."
Thanks to the court rider, the contentious issues, including dealing with the government's double-taxation policy and India's South Africa tour, were not even touched upon formally in the minutes.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo