The Committee of Administrators (CoA) has failed at implementing the Lodha Committee reforms and, along the way, lost sight of its mandate. That is the withering assessment of BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary about the CoA's 18 months in charge.
The CoA was appointed by the Supreme Court and tasked with not only bringing in reforms in the BCCI but also to supervise day-to-day board activities. Instead, significant reforms are yet to be put in place, and the Court has reserved its final order on certain key reforms, which has led to expectations that the Lodha reforms might face significant alteration.
Choudhary, speaking to ESPNcricinfo, was responding to comments by CoA chief Vinod Rai who has accused office bearers, such as Choudhary himself, of obstructing change and the members of exploiting "loopholes" in the court order.
The view the CoA seems to hold is that the office bearers have been obstructionist instead of cooperative. Can you personally say you have cooperated to the best of your ability in the implementation of reforms?
I had given an undertaking to the honourable Supreme Court that I was for reforms, and would cooperate in implementation. Have a look at the so-called status reports. The same status reports were all praise for me - the fourth in particular - that I was cooperating and trying my best. So on and so forth. Had that not been the fact, why did I, in the month of February, persuade these 13 states to accept the reforms? They stood persuaded barring two or three points, which liberty the honourable court itself had granted, which they mentioned. I forwarded the opinions and suggestions of these 13 states. Was I not cooperating with the reforms? My job was to cooperate, I had given that undertaking. But I am not there to cooperate with any individual. Any mistakes on that, I am sorry to say, I am not there for that.
But the individual has contended that the states did not come forward with any suggestions for the draft constitution.
This is untruth, because I am a signatory as secretary of the BCCI to the written statements of 13 full members of BCCI, including the pillar of Indian cricket, Mumbai, Ranji champions Vidarbha and Full Members from each and every zone.
Mr Rai says the court has taken an unduly long time and that's why the impasse. So the entire fault lies with the system which means either the Supreme Court or the office bearers or the BCCI? How can anyone talk about Supreme Court in such manner? He says the argument to take off the cooling-off period is untenable but on July 5, the honourable Supreme Court heard the matter, spoke on the subject and thereafter said we reserve our judgement. So the honorary Supreme Court is seized with the matter, is considering a view on the matter, taking a view on the matter. How is he stating his view? On a subject that Supreme Court is taking a view, he has no right to take a view.
Mr Rai has also spoken about your daily allowances, USD 750 for foreign tours, which in his view is a vested interest and in effect takes away your honorary status.
Are our allowances in accordance with rules as they are today in the BCCI? If they are, then so be it. If you are comparing to those of the players, you are conveniently forgetting the fact that the players for playing these matches - and I am not even remotely referring to sponsorships - are getting match fees apart from annual central contracts. This DA that Mr Rai is quoting and juxtaposing with that of the office bearers is unfair.
Also this TA-DA is in accordance with the amount cleared by Mr Rai himself on June 22, 2018.
But he is saying the amount is unreasonable
Fair enough. Make it reasonable, through due processes. I am all for that. But you must find out what DA I was drawing at the time of the fourth status report and what I am drawing now. It hasn't changed. Why has this issue come up suddenly?
You said you were there to co-operate with the reforms and not with an individual. It was going fine as you say until the fourth status report. What went wrong after that?
I began to block appointments made through rank opaque processes. One of Priya Gupta (GM, marketing) and the other of Ajit Singh (head of ACSU). Nobody knew what the processes were, what the selection panel were, when the selections were done. We were just presented with a fait accompli that A has been selected, B has been selected, and when some queries were raised, we were treated as if we were obstructionists. And even in overlooking our objections, they were not consistent: Ajit Singh's appointment was authenticated by the CEO despite my refusal, but Priya Gupta has been left out in the cold. He should have been truthful to both. Mr Rai selected both Priya Gupta and Ajit Singh. Both were rejected by me. Both should have been appointed by the CEO. Only one was.
Did disagreements also extend to cricketing matters?
Yes. Take day-night Test cricket, for example. The issue is absolutely clear. It had to be brought to the stakeholders. Who are the stakeholders? Players. Public. Visiting team. Broadcasters. Also those who work for cricket, those who select the team. Everyone had been consulted, and I had put it on record. I didn't only speak to the head coach, I told him don't take a decision in a hurry. You take two days, and then send me an email about your view on the subject, incorporating the players' views. He said they were okay with it as long as we had only one session under lights. But now the plan stands cancelled because apparently the team doesn't want it. Nobody else has shown me anything in black and white from the head coach. Remember the fact that apart from Bangladesh, India is the only country which has still not started playing day-night Test cricket. Indian cricket team as represented by the head coach was ready, the opposition was ready, the broadcaster was ready. Nobody has shown me an on-the-record refusal from the team because apparently none exists.
You also didn't sign the new player contracts.
We knew nothing about them. To assign categories to different players is the job of the selectors. They did not meet. I should know because I am the convenor of the selection committee. Nor was I informed of the criteria of the contracts. That is why I didn't sign the contracts. I said come what way I will not sign. It is only after the general body agreed to them in the June 20 meeting that I signed.
They tried to intimidate me in the Priya Gupta case but I stood my ground. I said I will appear personally in the Supreme Court, and argue against it.
There seems to be a general dislike for Mr Rai and the CoA because they have begun to rule on the day-to-day matters. Mr Rai's counter always has been that their mandate was to supervise the functioning of the board until the reforms were implemented.
Do you accept the fact that a district magistrate supervises affairs of the district? If the answer is yes, do tell me when the DM goes to a district, does he frame new laws or work under the laws that exist? He doesn't have the mandate from the Supreme Court to change rules except for these reforms.
The CoA's opinion of the office bearers is known now. How do you rate the way the CoA has gone about implementing the reforms, and also have they stuck to their mandate?
They have lost sight of the mandate. Sorry, they had lost sight of the mandate. Now the time is over. That is why they failed. For the simple reason that if they had focused on the mandate, they would have at least travelled the distance that I could travel with the members wherein I persuaded 13 Full Members to accept the reforms only exercising slight discretion with regards to the July 24 2017 order where some liberty had been granted by the honourable Supreme Court. They have not been able to persuade one single member of the BCCI.