Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, the scion of the Mysore royal family, has been elected president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) after he defeated Gundappa Viswanath, the former Indian Test cricketer. Wadiyar polled 553 votes in a closely-fought, high-profile election, the likes of which the state association witnessed for the first time in nine years. Viswanath polled 516 votes, losing by the slim margin of 37 votes.
Brijesh Patel, who unseated C Nagaraj nine years ago and has held sway as the secretary since then, held onto his post, albeit by a slim margin, polling 568 votes. Brijesh, the former Indian batsman, defeated G Kasturi Rangan, who claimed 475 votes, losing by 93.
In all a little over 1080 votes were cast, a record turn-out for KSCA elections. With both groups campaigning heavily, and doing their utmost to get people to vote - more than 20 very elderly and infirm life members came through in wheelchairs to participate in the elections - the process reached a crescendo. When Brijesh won the last high profile election approximately 800 votes were cast, and this election easily surpassed that.
Overall the Wadiyar group won a slim majority, with 13 of their candidates getting elected, as opposed to 11 from the Brijesh group. Crucially, Select Cricket Club was one of the Institutional Life Members from the Bangalore Zone to win, and it is headed by Vijay Mallya, the industrialist, who recently announced his decision to make a foray into Karnataka cricket administration.
Two vice-presidents from the Brijesh faction, Roger Binny (582 votes), the former Indian Test allrounder, and Dr S Krishnamurthy (530) won, while PR Ashok Anand (530) was elected as vice-president from the Wadiyar camp.
The vital post of treasurer went to Thallam Venkatesh (530), from the Brijesh camp, who beat Jagannath (490) by the margin of 44 votes in what local experts considered a genuine upset.
Wadiyar had brief words with the press who were gathered at the KSCA, saying, "We've got overall 13 candidates and its up to the rival group to work with us," amidst choruses of his supporters chanting "Maharajah ki jai". When asked how he would work with arch-rival Brijesh, Wadiyar only said, "Yes, I know he's won the election. Wait till tomorrow. It's too early to say." It's worth noting that Wadiyar, in the run-up to the elections had quoted the old axiom: politics makes for strange bedfellows.
In almost stark contrast to Wadiyar, a visibly emotional Viswanath did his best to keep his composure when chatting to the media. "As a player I always expected to do well. Same was the case here. I thought I'd do well in the elections," said the man who scored 6000-plus Test runs and still remains one of the most swashbuckling batsmen the country has produced. "But, even as a player I've lost a few matches. I accept the verdict here. I'm still hopeful of playing well and this is not the end of the story."
Mallya, the other high-profile figure in the elections, was typically dramatic in the statement he made. "I know it's a kind of a coalition set up. But I'll help both parties function well," he said. "My commitment to Karnataka cricket and the KSCA is total." A late entrant into the fray in these elections, it is believed that Mallya's real interest lies in administration of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) - especially the meetings of the marketing and finance committees - to which he will gain an entry through the KSCA. Interestingly, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the BCCI when asked about the Indian Cricket League (ICL). "Mr Pawar has taken the game one level up and he's running the game ably. I don't see why I should support the ICL."
At the end of the day, the elections at the KSCA assumed significance at the national level thanks to the profile various protagonists enjoy. How this will eventually pan out, at the state and national level, remains to be seen.
Full list of winners (Votes polled in brackets)
President Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar (553)
Secretary Brijesh Patel (568)
Vice-presidents 1 Roger Binny (582) 2, Dr S Krishnamurthy (530) 3 PR Ashok Anand (530)
Treasurer Thallam Venkatesh (530)
Managing Committee 1 AV Jayaprakash (605) 2 Sudhakar Rao (582 ) 3 J Abhiram (551) 4 Raghuram Bhatt (533) 5 Sanjay Desai (514) 6 Lakshminarayan (507)
Bangalore Zone - 1 Jawahar Sports Club (620) 2 Select Cricket Club (564) 3 Bangalore Cricketers 555 4 Malleshwaram United Cricket Club (539) 5 Swastika Union CC (515) 6 Mount Joy CC (502)
Mysore Zone - National CC (563)
Shimoga Zone - Durgigudi SC (525)
Tumkur Zone - Tumkur Occasionals (556)
Mangalore Zone - Mangalore Sports Club (554)
Dharwar Zone - Hubli SC (530)
Raichur Zone - Perfect SC (494)
Anand Vasu is associate editor of Cricinfo