Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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N Srinivasan has said he will stand for re-election as BCCI president at the Indian board's annual general meeting, to be held in Chennai on September 29. The announcement is not a surprise but his success, a foregone conclusion a few months ago, is now hostage to several legal and judicial issues that are beyond his control and may crystallise formal opposition to him.
Under BCCI rules, any presidential candidate has to be nominated by two associations from the incumbent's home zone - south zone in Srinivasan's case, and that is where the focus is shifting.
As Srinivasan left the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai on Thursday after attending a meeting of the board's marketing committee, he was asked if the other members from south zone were standing besides him. His response was succinct: "I am going to stand," he said, before taking a dig at the media for speculating on the numbers game in the event of an election.
While Srinivasan has made his candidature public, it cannot be ascertained at this point if the murmurs within the board opposing Srinivasan's stubbornness to hold on to the chair will turn into a credible organised lobby sufficient to match Srinivasan both in terms of stature and power. The early runner seems to be Shashank Manohar, Srinivasan's predecessor, a lawyer with a no-nonsense yet low-profile attitude.
Manohar hasn't yet made any concrete or public move towards returning to job he left in 2011 but it is believed that efforts are on to persuade him to contest against Srinivasan. One official privy to the developments told ESPNcricinfo that Manohar has shown interest but he is still gauging his support, especially from the south zone.
Manohar, who hails from the central zone, will need a proposer and a seconder from the south zone - most of whose members are staunch Srinivasan loyalists. It is believed that the anti-Srinivasan lobby - comprising senior politicians in New Delhi who are also part of the BCCI top brass - has been exerting political pressure on the Goa Cricket Association to shift its allegiance from Srinivasan.
The same lobby is also working on the Andhra Cricket Association to be the other member needed to set up a candidate. "Our stand is still undecided. We will discuss with our member units and then decide, since there is no hurry as such," an ACA official said on Thursday.
Both sides also have an eye on two important legal developments that could impact the election. One involves the IPL fixing case, in relation to which Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested in May. Mumbai Police is expected to file its chargesheet any day and the gravity of the charges against Meiyappan could play a part.
Srinivasan himself has already been chargesheeted - in his capacity as managing director of India Cements - in a corruption case involving a top political leader from Andhra Pradesh. If he is arrested in this case - and it is not impossible, given the high-level political machinations at work - then the board might agree to replace him as the BCCI president, even though the issue has nothing to do with cricket. "If that happens, we will have to find a new face," a Srinivasan confidant conceded.
It is these uncertainties that the Cricket Association of Bihar has sought to tap into through a public appeal to the BCCI members. The CAB - which is not a part of the BCCI - had filed the petition in Bombay High Court against the constitution of the IPL probe commission and on Tuesday made a "sincere appeal" to BCCI members to reject Srinivasan's candidature. "He continues to be in a 'step aside' situation as president," the appeal said. "The BCCI cannot afford to have a president who will be in a permanent state of 'step aside' and not be involved in its day-to-day affairs."
Despite all this, Srinivasan remains the most powerful person in the board and the man to beat in the elections. He has the support of many member associations but, as the BCCI AGM draws closer, the equation within the board could yet change dramatically.