State associations to weigh in on Lodha report at SGM
The BCCI's special general meeting in Mumbai on Friday will discuss the views of its member associations on the Lodha committee's recommendations, after the Supreme Court gave the board a deadline of March 3 to inform if the recommendations will be implemented. According to a source, the BCCI might consider forming a panel to study the inputs provided by the member units and firm up a response to the Supreme Court.
While the Delhi & District Cricket Association [DDCA] has rejected a number of recommendations, other state associations have expressed reservations about some aspects of the report. ESPNcricinfo understands that many state associations are either opposed to or seek modifications to the following recommendations:
One state, one vote
The panel's recommendation that only one association from a state should be given a vote has, predictably, drawn strong opposition from the western units, which comprise three associations each from Gujarat and Maharashtra. If the recommendation comes into effect, four of the six associations would be stripped of voting rights and reduced to the status of an associate member. All the associations, however, will be allowed to field teams and will remain eligible for grants.
"State boundaries shouldn't be confused with cricketing boundaries," a president of one of the associations said. "How can you take away the legacy and contributions of many of these associations which have been in existence from even before independence?" The western associations are understood to have already conveyed their objections to this recommendation to the BCCI.
Bringing BCCI under the RTI ambit
The proposal to bring the board under the purview of the Right to Information Act has been met with near-unanimous opposition from the BCCI's units. The implementation of this recommendation would require the BCCI to make public details of its activities.
While a board official pointed out that the issue of the BCCI being amenable to the RTI is sub judice, another said it was a blow to its autonomy. "The BCCI generates its own funds and so it can't be compared to other sports bodies," the official said. "When you bring the BCCI under the ambit of the RTI some of the questions that we would eventually end up getting are about why 'A' wasn't selected and why 'B' was. How can we disclose aspects of selection in public?"
Age limit and cooling-off period
The Lodha report disqualifies a person over the age of 70 from holding office or contesting elections in the BCCI. The panel also recommended that an office-bearer should not serve two consecutive terms - each must be broken by a "cooling-off" period. The first recommendation would make it untenable for the likes of Sharad Pawar, N Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah to continue as heads of their respective state bodies. "When the Indian political system doesn't prescribe any age-limit for those who can contest elections why target the BCCI alone?" a board official asked. Another official said that a cooling-off period would hamper continuity in administration.
No ministers or bureaucrats as office bearers
This recommendation, according to a few officials, would add to the difficulties of administering state associations. "It is not right to paint all politicians with the same brush," the president of a state association said. He said that the presence of a minister or a bureaucrat helped overcome administrative roadblocks. "When you try to organise a match, there are many issues to handle that involve the police, corporation, commercial taxes and other aspects of state machinery," he said. "You need somebody to shield you, and also a politician or a bureacrat's administrative abilities cannot be discounted."
No ad breaks between overs
Although this recommendation isn't a direct challenge to any of the state associations many officials have raised concerns over the consequent shrinking of revenue to the board. An official said that if the revenue earned from the sale of broadcast rights falls it would have a direct impact on the state associations. "The BCCI has managed to create state-of-the-art facilities in many places with the revenue earned from TV rights," the official said. "This would slow down all work related to infrastructure development."
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo