Message comes loud and clear
The message, for those who still had not got it, has come through loud and clear at the 77th AGM of the Board of Control for Cricket in India: support the Sharad Pawar group, and you will be rewarded; support Jagmohan Dalmiya, and you'll be left scrounging for crumbs. An early indication of this mentality was revealed a few days ago when the BCCI announced its telecast plans for domestic cricket, and no matches of either Karnataka or Bengal were on the list of games scheduled to go live.
The clearest sign of all is the presence of Prasun Mukherjee on the prestigious marketing committee. Mukherjee has had little to do with the functioning of the board in the past, and his only achievement so far is stretching Dalmiya to the limit in a closely fought election for the presidency of the Cricket Association of Bengal recently. He lost by the narrow margin of five votes, but it seems that just standing against Dalmiya is enough to win you favour, and a place on a committee, in the BCCI.
Also on the marketing committee, is Ranbir Singh Mahendra, the man who defeated Pawar two years ago in that famous election where Dalmiya cast several votes to sneak his candidate home by a single vote, but that is because he is an immediate past president of the BCCI.
And Brijesh Patel, president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association, a known Dalmiya loyalist, finds himself isolated, as his name did not figure on any of the 22 committees that were constituted. While Patel is yet to switch sides and bat for the team that has such a whopping margin, others have begun to realise that their very survival in their home states is at stake, if they do not back the ruling group. It's not so much a case of thumping chests and proving loyalty to Pawar, but at the very least a quiet acknowledgment that they will not oppose him in any manner.
Someone like SK Nair, who was virtually Dalmiya's right-hand man, seems to have realised the futility of opposing Pawar. In doing so, he has been spared the regular grilling over matters pertaining to the alleged misappropriation of funds, although his name, as secretary, appears on many documents pertaining to the same. And now, the ruling group has gone one step further, and found a place for him in the technical committee. Another long-time Dalmiya baiter, Samar Pal, has also been rewarded for his efforts. He was elected to the board of the National Cricket Academy.
There's also Anurag Thakur, the young president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, whose fortunes have takes a definite swing for the better. At the AGM last year he was not even allowed to attend, through a ruling from the election commissioner, who determined that R Zar was the bonafide representative of the HPCA. Since then Thakur has built his bridges with the Pawar group and he's on the Tour, Programme and Fixture Committee. Interestingly, Zar too has been accommodated, in the Museum Committee.
This board has instituted so many committees now that it would be hard for the man on the street to even keep track of the comings and goings. Perhaps the BCCI could constitute a committee to look into the constitution of committees. But if they do, you know who certainly won't find a place on it.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo