India news November 20, 2013

Supreme Court appoints observer for RCA elections

The Supreme Court has appointed retired justice NM Kasliwal as the principal observer for the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) elections. Kasliwal has the authority to decide the election date, when banned BCCI administrator Lalit Modi will contest the president's post against the incumbent CP Joshi.

Kasliwal is familiar with the disputes at the faction-ridden RCA as he was the court-appointed observer during the two elections in 2009, in March and December. This time, the matter reached the Supreme Court when former senior BCCI administrator Kishore Rungta approached the court after Joshi's faction stripped him off his affiliation as the president of the Sawai Madhopur Cricket Association. Kaswilal will now decide the final voters list, as well as their eligibility.

"I am definitely happy with the decision because we are for free and fair elections," Sanjay Dixit, the RCA secretary, said. Dixit has now joined hands with Modi, against whom he had fought a bitter public battle a few years ago. Dixit, a former bureaucrat, had not enjoyed the indulgent nature of Modi when he was the RCA president, and he was the force behind Modi losing to Joshi.

Dixit, however, was equally disillusioned by the ad-hoc work carried out by the Joshi administration. In protest, he decided to stop performing his secretary duties. Joshi, a federal minister with the Indian government, picked KK Sharma as the acting secretary. With the Rajasthan state elections scheduled for the first week of December, Joshi picked December 7 as the date for the RCA polls.

Joshi was then surprised by Modi's sudden decision to make a comeback into Indian cricket. Modi had been served a life ban after a special disciplinary committee inquiry found him guilty on eight charges under the BCCI's code of conduct. Modi, however, found an opening via the Rajasthan Sports Council Act that governs the RCA, and he approached the Rajasthan High Court, which stayed the BCCI ban, allowing him to contest the polls.

Dixit issued a notice to all district associations of the RCA, saying that elections would be held on November 23. In a counter move, Sharma sent a separate notice, saying the polls were on November 24. Dixit appointed an election officer, GC Mathur, to overlook the election duties, but the Joshi faction raised various objections, questioning the eligibility of certain voters on the main electoral list. These issues were disposed of by the election officer. In another move, triggered by Dixit, major district associations divested Sharma of his duties as the acting secretary from October 28.

The disputes continue. There are 33 voters, and seven district associations have filed petitions in various courts challenging the eligibility of certain voters. On Thursday, four district associations - Alwar, Dhawalpur, Ganganagar, Banswara - filed petitions in the Rajasthan High Court, against various malpractices by the Joshi group.

"I asked my election officer to submit all the records. The other group did not do that so it shows which party is interested in holding fair elections and which one believes in fudging the records," Dixit said. Neither Joshi nor Sharma responded to phone calls for a reaction.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo