Jyotiraditya Scindia, a member of the BCCI and of its disciplinary committee, has said board president N Srinivasan must step down following the arrest of his son-in-law and Chennai Super Kings official Gurunath Meiyappan on charges of betting. Early this week, Punjab Cricket Association president IS Bindra publicly called for Srinivasan's resignation, undermining the latter's assertion that the entire board was united behind him.
"Let me say this that I am not assuming or saying that anyone is guilty. But considering the environment that is around cricket today, considering the fact that we do need to cleanse the sport in every single meaning of the word, I do believe that it would be in the fitness of things if Mr. Srinivasan did step aside until this matter reached a conclusive end in terms of an inquiry," Scindia, president of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association and a federal minister, told the television channel Times Now.
"If he and his family members, or rather his son-in-law, is absolved then surely he can come back. But considering the environment that cricket is in today, I do think that if you combine the fact of a conflict of interest and his own family member being involved in an ongoing investigation, it is in the fitness of things and more from a spirit point of view and propriety point of view, I do believe that he should step aside."
Scindia's statement was the first from any of the politicians - including some of the country's most high-profile leaders - who sit on the BCCI to criticize Srinivasan's stand. It came amid growing public outrage over silence within the BCCI leadership over questions relating to Srinivasan's apparently conflicted position on the issue. It came on a day when Kirti Azad, a BJP member of parliament, and a senior official of the Communist Party both criticized the board's silence. Scindia is also the president of the state association to which Sanjay Jagdale, the BCCI secretary, belongs.
Scindia said the issue of Gurunath's exact role in Super Kings wasn't relevant to the issue of his father-in-law's continuance in office. "There's a committee that's going to be set up that's going to look into this, I don't believe that the nitty-gritty is important at this point of time. I believe propriety is important and, in the sense of propriety, I do believe that he should step down. I do believe he should step down, not only for himself but also for Chennai Super Kings and for the spirit of cricket per se."
Asked whether the BCCI was planning to follow an alternative route to convince Srinivasan to step down, Scindia replied by saying it's what he would have done if he were in that situation. "The fact that he has not done so, I think it is time now for BCCI as a collective to see what the future course of action should be. In the fitness of things one should step aside, whether or not we believe we are guilty or not. If we are not guilty, then we will surely be reinstated. That example has to come from the top."
On a similar theme, he said that "a fair share" of the responsibility to clean up cricket lay with the BCCI. "I believe we must take the assistance of other stakeholders on board to ensure that such incidents don't recur, and there is a very strict - and strictly enforced - due process."
On Sunday, Bindra, a former BCCI president himself, was unambiguous in his stand."I demand that he should step down from the BCCI President's position forthwith and not cause anymore damage to Indian cricket," Bindra said. "His statement in Mumbai is shocking. It shows that he has not learnt anything from this episode. He continues to remain defiant as if nothing has happened."