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The Rediff Special/rediff Features Desk
BCCI battle: The how and why
September 26, 2005
The election to the Board of Control for Cricket in India is up against more legal hurdles.
On Monday, the Rajasthan Cricket Association, the Bihar Cricket Association and Tamil Nadu's Netaji Cricket Club filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the removal of two additional observers -- K N Singh and M M Punchi -- for the BCCI election.
The petition also sought that the Board election be held before September 30.
The Rajasthan Cricket Association, represented by Lalit Modi, was the only member that did not sign the resolution passed on Friday after the AGM was adjourned for two months.
'We want transparency in the election process,' Modi had said then.
If all this has left you stumped, here are some quick answers to clear the air:
What do the petitioners want this time?
"Intricate legal issues will be raised (to disqualify voters) during the AGM. The petitioners (to the Supreme Court) want that the court should appoint a panel to oversee the elections," says a source close to the proceedings.
Critics of the Board's patron Jagmohan Dalmiya allege he runs the BCCI like his fiefdom and that often when members raise questions, they are not answered satisfactorily.
The present BCCI chairman, Ranbir Singh Mahendra, is perceived by them as a Dalmiya puppet.
Why were the additional observers appointed?
If the election had been held on Friday, the three observers would have had the power to disqualify voting associations. Besides the issue of Bihar and Jharkhand -- both associations claim voting rights as separate states -- the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association and the Rajasthan Cricket Association stand the risk of being disqualified on technicalities.
Both the Dalmiya camp and the challenger Sharad Pawar camp have a delicate balance of numbers, and even one member being disqualified would have meant uncertainty over victory.
Hence, the Pawar camp got the additional observers appointed through a legal battle.
Then why were they dismissed?
They were dismissed, again through a legal battle in the Calcutta high court, by the Dalmiya camp. Insiders say Pawar, being the political heavyweight he is, would not have joined the BCCI battle for the second time unless he was doubly sure of his chances.
Last September too, Pawar had run for Board president, only to see Dalmiya get the Maharashtra Cricket Association nominee disqualified. And Dalmiya's man was allowed to vote from the RCA, disqualifying Modi.
The Dalmiya camp's move of getting the additional observers ousted through a court battle this year signalled a similar trend.
What was the 'compromise formula'?
The BCCI resolution, read out by Mahendra, said Pawar and his nominee N Srinivasan, would be included in the marketing committee. It had set tongues wagging: that Pawar had agreed to a draw with concessions to him.
But the RCA's petition -- Modi is, in his words, 'definitely Pawar camp' -- makes it clear that while the Union agriculture minister might be willing to wave the white flag, his soldiers are not.
And if you are wondering why the whole hullabaloo over governing a game, the reason is what motivates most bitter battles: money.
On an average year, cricket generates about Rs 6.5 billion advertisement revenue.
The BCCI's internal mess has led to sponsors becoming increasingly irritated.