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Jagmohan Trumps In Pawar-Srinivasan Stalemate

03/03/2015 9:54 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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KOLKATA, INDIA - JUNE 3: Interim BCCI Chief Jagmohan Dalmiya addressing a press conference at Eden Garden on June 3, 2013 in Kolkata, India. Addressing his first press conference since taking over charge from N Srinivasan who stepped aside over Spot-fixing issue, Dalmiya said that he will make all efforts to achieve the ultimate goal so that the good name of cricket is retained. (Photo by Subhankar Chakraborty/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

"War has rules, mud wrestling has rules - politics has no rules" -- Ross Perot, American businessman and politician

In the rest and recreation period between World Cup matches mandated by the team management, Indian players have been asked to take their minds of cricket and related affairs. Quite wisely too, for modern sports psychology makes a strong case of players distancing themselves from the acute tension of a major tournament by trying to pursue a `normal' life in between.

However, I doubt any member of the Indian team and the support staff, even as they un-winded before Friday's important match against the West Indies at Perth, could have kept away from tracking the BCCI elections on Monday.

Indeed, nobody anywhere in the cricket world could have remained aloof to the developments in Chennai on Monday, so riveting has been the build-up to the elections over the past year or so - and so full of drama the outcome.

Indeed, the suspense about what may happen in the BCCI has been enhanced instead of being reduced after the elections what with both factions - one led by former president and political heavyweight Sharad Pawar, the other by ICC chairman N Srinivasan who was disallowed by the Supreme Court to contest - claiming they had prevailed.

The fact that major political parties, the BJP and Congress, were also simultaneously at play in these elections -- but not necessarily supporting candidates from their own outfit or owing allegiance to it -- added a diabolical dimension to these elections.

On the face of it, the results seem to throw up a dead heat between the two factions. While Srinivasan's group got most of its candidates elected, crucially BJP MP Anurag Thakur - who had crossed over to the Pawar group - won the secretary's post, tripping Sanjay Patel (Srinivasan loyalist) by a single vote.

Patel's defeat could be seriously damaging to Srinivasan's influence. In the BCCI's protocol, all significant decisions are made by the president and executed by the secretary. The other office bearers - including the treasurer and vice presidents - don't have the same clout.

That the elections were bitterly fought is evident that sever posts were decided by one vote; in a couple, the acting president Shivlal Yadav - incidentally also from the Srinivasan camp -- used his casting vote to determine the issue.

Interestingly, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Rajeev Shukla, both considered BCCI bigwigs had aligned themselves this time to the Pawar faction and both lost. It seemed that the BJP's 'unofficial' whip to the state associations it controls may have worked against them. But the fact that Thakur scraped through by a solitary vote also shows cross-voting haven taken place.

All said and done, however, the recent elections are about Jagmohan Dalmiya, the shrewd Marwari businessman from Kolkata who was instrumental in making Indian cricket the el Dorado for the sport, returning from the dead, as it were, to become the BCCI president once again.

About a decade back Dalmiya was ousted ("hounded out" was how he had described it himself) from the BCCI on charges of financial impropriety, fascinatingly by the combination of Pawar and Srinivasan who were then in tandem.

The latter two have since fallen out with each other so badly that they had made the recent elections virtually a fight-to-the-finish. It didn't quite turn out that way because Srinivasan wasn't allowed to stand for elections by the Supreme Court.

That seemed to charge up Pawar who was however forced to back off once he realized he couldn't get a proposer and seconder from the East Zone, whose turn it was to get the presidentship -- unless the association nominated someone from another association.

In the event Dalmiya, who everybody thought had become a has-been, kept his cool while the two factions were involved in hectic parleys and finally emerged as consensus candidate for both factions!

The moot question being asked now is whose man will Dalmiya be? The Srinivasan camp believes that because the East Zone associations did not nominate Pawar, Dalmiya is with their boss. Pawar, however claimed a sort-of-victory for his own group, saying that Dalmiya's election breaks the stranglehold of "one man", to be read as Srinivasan.

Meanwhile, after assuming office again, Dalmiya chose to remain circumspect. "I am my own man," he said tersely when asked which side he belonged to, indicating that some high-voltage times lie ahead in Indian cricket administration.

The next few weeks should tell us which way the wind will blow.

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