India news January 20, 2016

BCCI selector, media manager face conflict allegations

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The BCCI ombudsman Justice AP Shah has received a fresh set of complaints alleging conflict of interest, this time involving BCCI media manager Nishant Arora and national selector Vikram Rathour.

Freelance journalist Niraj Gunde wrote an email to Shah on Tuesday saying Arora and his wife were involved in a commercial venture that has on its clients list senior Indian cricketers Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh and also the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Assocation, where BCCI secretary Anuraj Thakur is the president.

In the email, which Shah has forwarded to BCCI president Shashank Manohar and Ratnakar Shetty (manager, game development), Gunde said Arora had violated the conflict of interest rule pertaining to BCCI employees, which states neither he nor his near relative can be associated in any commercial venture with a member association and also cannot represent a cricket player.

"Mr Nishant Arora was formerly manager/agent of Mr. Harbhajan Singh and Mr. Yuvraj Singh, current cricketers of the BCCI," Gunde wrote. "In addition, Mr. Nishant Arora's wife Ms. Neha Soni Arora is a Director of a company called Final Score Management Pvt. Ltd. This company has had commercial relations with various persons associated with the Board."

Gunde also attached the client list of Final Score which included Yuvraj Singh Centre of Excellence (YSCE), YouWeCan (the cancer foundation promoted by Yuvraj), Harbhajan Singh Institute of Cricket, and a photo of Thakur along with the HPCA insignia. Arora was not available for comment, but a BCCI official pointed out that Arora had dissociated himself from Final Score completely before joining as the board's media manager. He also clarified that Arora had never managed Yuvraj and Harbhajan and only done public relations work for the two players. As for Final Score, the official said it was a "defunct" business.

In the case of Rathour, Gunde produced a scan of the former India opener's passport that had him listed as a British citizen. According to Gunde, Rathour's "loyalty" to the BCCI "is conflicted" and hence he should not be part of the board.

Shah asked BCCI to respond by February 2 after which he will decide whether to send any notice to Arora and Rathour. Gunde has now sent four applications to Shah accusing various people of conflict. Last week he had pressed allegations of conflict against former India captain Sourav Ganguly and Harbhajan.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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