The BCCI elections 2004

The 2004 BCCI election fracas

Ashok Malik
How Ranbir Singh Mahendra was elected BCCI president in 2004

The parent and its children

The BCCI is a private organisation with 30 affiliates, each with its own articles of association. For instance, the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) is registered under the Companies Act, not the Societies Act. The affiliates are drawn from states or historical cricket-playing regions. For example, Gujarat is home to three affiliates ­ the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA), the Saurashtra Cricket Association and the Varodhara (Baroda) Cricket Association. Three affiliates don't play Ranji Trophy cricket ­ National Cricket Club of India (NCC), Kolkata; Cricket Club of India, Mumbai; and Combined Universities.

Three affiliates are under Union ministries ­ Railways (Railway ministry), Services (Defence ministry) and Universities (HRD ministry). Politicians control many state-level affiliates. RK Biswal runs the Orissa Cricket Association. He is the son of senior Congress politician BK Biswal. Narhari Amin, former Congress minister, is president of the GCA. The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association president is Anurag Thakur, son of former BJP chief minister PK Dhumal. Former chief minister Farooq Abdullah (National Conference) is president of the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association.

The election puzzle

Each of the 30 affiliates has one vote. Each affiliate has its own way of deciding who will cast the vote. The DDCA, for instance, nominates its president. Other state associations may require a resolution from the managing/executive committee empowering a voter. This is often a cause for dispute. At the last election for instance, Lalit Modi turned up with a letter from the joint secretary of the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA), authorising him to vote. Kishore Rungta arrived with a letter from the RCA president, PM Rungta. It was decided that the president's sanction was necessary, and Modi was expelled.

In the case of the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA), two groups sought control of the body. They had gone to court and the court had directed that all MCA business be conducted in consultation with two court-appointed observers. Last year, the MCA voter at the BCCI election was thrown out when it was pointed out that court observers had not been told he would be coming to vote. Both the MCA voter and Modi were committed to Pawar.

What makes the BCCI election a bit unorthodox is that the outgoing president is chairman of the election process. In case of a protest, he decides who can vote and who cannot. Dalmiya blackballed two voters in Kolkata. In Chennai in 2001, Muthiah barred unfriendly voters just before a contest in which he was himself seeking re-election. This was strange.

Each of the 30 affiliates votes once, for the posts of president, secretary, joint secretary and treasurer. The five vice-presidents (one from each zone) are generally elected unanimously. In Kolkata last year, the problem was only with the president's election.

All the other elections were won and lost without a hitch. Take SK Nair. He beat Niranjan Shah to the secretary's post by 17 votes to 13.

Other than the 30 affiliates, the chairman has a vote. In case of a tie, he also has a casting vote. With Maharashtra not voting, the state affiliates voted 15-14 in Pawar's favour. As chairman, Dalmiya voted to tie the score: 15-15. Then he exercised the casting vote to break the tie: 15-16. Mahendra had won.

Since Dalmiya is also president of the Cricket Association of Bengal and of the NCC, he actually had four votes of the 31 cast in the presidential election. This was doubly strange.

This article first appeared in the November 2004 issue of Wisden Asia Cricket.

Ashok Malik is senior editor of Indian Express Delhi