Status quo in BCCI as Srinivasan defies doubters
N Srinivasan seems to have staved off the stiff opposition from within the board and will continue as the BCCI president, at least for now and possibly till the AGM in September. A day after the arrest of Gurunath Meiyappan - his son-in-law and a senior official of the Chennai Super Kings franchise - on charges of betting on IPL games, the momentum that seemed to have built up overnight to force a change at the top of the BCCI has apparently fizzled out.
More than half the board members attended a dinner hosted by former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya in Kolkata on Saturday night - notable absentees included vice-president Arun Jaitley, Srinivasan's presumptive successor, joint secretary Anurag Thakur and treasurer Ajay Shirke - but the mood seemed to be one of preserving the status quo.
Indeed, the mood was set before the dinner began, when a senior board official indicated to ESPNcricinfo that the members 'will not demand' Srinivasan's resignation. Srinivasan and IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla had a private discussion in Kolkata before heading for the dinner, the source said, adding that the likelihood of Srinivasan stepping down before the AGM was 'very slim'.
It was in keeping with Srinivasan's defiant stand through the day. Soon after he landed in Mumbai on Saturday afternoon, he reiterated that he had no intention of resigning. "I cannot be bulldozed or railroaded into resigning by the pressure being applied," he said. "The BCCI will follow strictly all its rules. The law will take its course. Somebody wants to replace me, let him get elected."
The board members know that if Srinivasan does not resign from the job, their options are both limited and complicated (see sidebar). According to the BCCI constitution, a special general body meeting can move a resolution against its president with a three-fourth majority only if the president is directly involved in a corruption case - which is not the case so far.
Should the BCCI call an emergency general body meeting, it may come down to electoral numbers. Besides the 27 affiliated units who compete in the Ranji Trophy, the Cricket Club of India, the National Cricket Club, Kolkata and All India Universities have a vote each. If the incumbent president is presiding over the AGM, he is also entitled to a separate vote, thus extending the tally to 31. The last time the BCCI had a contested election for the post of president was in 2005, when Sharad Pawar defeated Ranbir Singh Mahendra to break Jagmohan Dalmiya's monopoly over Indian cricket's administration.
There remains much internal grumbling about where this controversy around the Chennai Super Kings' official and Srinivasan has left the BCCI. A former board official said that Gurunath's arrest has "tremendously harmed the credibility of Indian cricket. And the process to restore credibility cannot even begin till he [Srinivasan] remains at the helm."
The twist in the entire saga is the Gurunath angle. Srinivasan has already constituted a one-man commission of inquiry, headed by Ravi Sawani, to investigate the spot-fixing allegations against the three Rajasthan Royals players.
If Sawani's report implicates anyone - a player or a member of support staff or management team - from Chennai Super Kings, the report will be forwarded to the disciplinary committee. With Srinivasan, in his capacity as the president, being a member of the three-member committee, there would be clear conflict of interest.
In such a case, his only option would be to recuse himself from the disciplinary committee by stepping down as the president.
Saturday night's events were an about-turn from what transpired on Friday, well before Gurunath's arrest, with several significant statements being made across the spectrum of politics and business that controls Indian cricket. Sahara chairman Subroto Roy, who had earlier this week announced his team's pullout from the IPL and his company's decision to not renew its sponsorship of Indian cricket, indicated he would be willing to reconsider the decision if there was a change of guard. He went so far as to say Sharad Pawar, a former BCCI president, was an "apt" person to head the board once again.
Around the same time a senior member of Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party issued an unambiguous statement saying Srinivasan should go, though the party issued a clarification saying it was issued in a personal capacity and didn't reflect the party's views. On Saturday, Pawar told ESPNcricinfo that the party had no view on the matter. "I have resigned [from the BCCI] five year ago to go to the ICC and don't want to come back."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo