India news October 4, 2015

Manohar succeeds Dalmiya as BCCI president

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Karhadkar: Manohar known for keeping his word

Shashank Manohar has been formally elected BCCI president at the board's special general meeting (SGM) in Mumbai on Sunday. Soon after, at his first press conference, he announced a wide range of measures to tackle various critical issues facing the board, including conflict of interest, corruption in cricket, the lack of transparency in the board's operations and financial accountability of the state associations.

His overall message was clear: "Nothing is wrong in the board." The problem, he said, was one of perception, created by the lack of information flowing from the board. "Therefore, to clear that myth and change the perception, we would [implement the changes] immediately," he said. How immediate? "In two months' time all these things about which I have spoken will be implemented in full force."

He also stressed on the board's unity, a point reinforced by his specific comments - "Excellent secretary, better than most of the secretaries I have seen in this board" - on N Srinivasan, the ICC chairman and seen as an adversary. "We are not working here with a vindictive attitude," he said. "The entire Board, when we discussed together, were united. All 30 members including the Tamil Nadu Association said we have to work together and build the image of the Board and not fight amongst ourselves."

For starters, he said, the BCCI would appoint an independent official to preside over matters relating to conflict of interest - the one issue at the heart of the BCCI's credibility problem since 2008, when the constitution was changed to allow officials to be stakeholders in the IPL. "The board would frame regulations with regards to conflict of interest of administrators, players and their staff. That would be done within a month's time," he said. "And the board would also appoint an ombudsman or an ethics officer who would be independent of this board and who would look into the complaints regarding conflict of interest."

The IPL also threw up the board's single biggest crisis of the past few years, the 2013 spot-fixing case. Investigating that case revealed several shortcomings in the board's process, including its lack of teeth in carrying out deep and meaningful inquiries. To that end, Manohar said, he hoped to discuss with government officials the possibility of engaging their investigating agencies, who would have far greater powers. It would help that the board secretary, Anurag Thakur, is a senior member of India's ruling party, the BJP.

Much of the public distrust of the board is the lack of transparency, especially in financial matters, which has given the BCCI an image of being a closed club. The board is not accountable to any outside agency, nor even to the public under the Right to Information legislation, and Manohar stressed that the latter should apply only if the government amends the law. However, he seemed to take a step forward by saying the board's constitution - so long inaccessible to all outsiders - would be posted on its website. Also to be posted are the board's balance sheet and any expenditure above Rs 25 lakh (approx. US$ 38,000).

Similarly, he aims to tighten controls on the state associations, who receive funds from the central kitty but whose spending is not monitored. "A lot of debate goes on that the associations are paid huge money by the board and nobody knows what happens to that money," he said. "The accounts of all associations are audited by their auditors. However, we would build a system by which the accounts of the affiliated units would be audited by an independent auditor appointed by the board, where after [thereafter] the further money would be released to the state associations. The board would also be empowered to take action in case the board finds that the money which has been given to the state association is not being properly utilised."

Manohar also held out some hope for that most forgotten stakeholder in Indian cricket, the ordinary fan. He made several references to the fans and acknowledged their role in making the BCCI the powerful organisation it is today. "The BCCI is a huge brand in itself. [But] without the support of the fans it would not have been possible for the board to become this big. The confidence of the cricket-loving fans has shaken due to certain unpleasant things that have happened. [It is the duty of] all members of the board to build the reputation of the board and bring it back to its full reputation."

Manohar's election, which was necessitated by the death last month of the incumbent Jagmohan Dalmiya, became a formality after he was the only person nominated for the post on the eve of the election. He had first emerged as the front-runner for the post when the Bharatiya Janata Party backed him.

For a full list of Manohar's promises, click here.

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