Back in the reckoning to return to the Board of Control for Cricket in India after being elected president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association, banned former Indian Premier League commissioner Lalit Modi said winning the polls is the first step towards returning to the Indian cricket board.
"It is a big victory. It has been four years since I have been fighting the previous cricket establishment at the RCA because of the deteriorating facilities," Modi told ESPNCricinfo, after the Supreme Court-appointed observer announced the much-awaited poll results on Tuesday.
Modi predictably swept the polls, winning by an emphatic 24-5 margin after the Supreme Court cleared the decks for the announcement of the election results, more than four months after the acrimonious polls.
The result was announced by court-appointed observer Justice (Retd) N M Kasliwal.
Out of a total 33 votes, Modi's opponent Rampal Sharma got just five.
Asked whether the victory paves the way for a return to the BCCI, Modi replied: "I am not denying that. We have to cleanse cricket. The Supreme Court has helped in that activity by appointing Justice Mudgal panel to probe the allegations of corruption in the IPL."
Within a couple of hours of declaration of the poll results, the BCCI indefinitely suspended the Rajasthan Cricket Association and decided to form an ad-hoc committee to run the affairs of the affiliated unit.
"As per Order dated 30/4/2014 the Hon’ble Supreme Court had directed that if it is found by BCCI that any person has acted against its rules, regulations or law, which is to be enforced by it, it would be open to it to take action against such a person," read a statement from BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel.
"In pursuance of the order, under authority vested in him as per Regulation 32 (vii) of the Rules and Regulations of BCCI, Mr. Shivlal Yadav, Interim President, BCCI, has suspended the Rajasthan Cricket Association from the membership of the BCCI, pending disciplinary proceedings against it on charges of misconduct.
"Keeping in mind the interests of the sport of cricket and in order to safeguard the best interests and welfare of the cricketers playing the game in different age-groups and
their future, an ad-hoc committee will be constituted shortly by the BCCI," the statement added.
The RCA, on its part, vowed to challenge the suspension in court.
"We are mulling over the situation and would appeal in the high court," said Mehmood Abdi, the newly-elected vice-president and Modi's legal counsel. Among other office-bearers, Somendra Tiwari was elected the new secretary, while Pawan Goyal won the treasurer's post.
Modi, who is living in exile in London following a life ban by the BCCI, said his aim is to improve the RCA's functioning.
"During my previous tenure as RCA president we had made it the premier state association. We had built a state-of-the-art academy, a good stadium and we had plans to build a new stadium.
"Apparently the academy has fallen apart, there was bias in the selection process (of both first-class and age-group teams) and there was not much cricket happening in Rajasthan anymore. After I left, the administration had become political. The CP Joshi regime did not do anything worthy of note at the RCA."
"My top priority would be to bring RCA back to its former glory. To do that we need to rectify the house within. We need to introspect and see what went wrong. And this time I want to build a system which just will not fall apart irrespective of who runs the RCA," said Modi, who was also a BCCI vice-president from 2005 till September 2010 besides being the man responsible for creating the cash-rich IPL.
On how he plans to run the RCA from London, with uncertainty over his return, Modi said, "It (my return) is not uncertain. I will be back soon. As and when the Indian (federal) government changes we will see. In 10 days' time the election results will be out, so we never know how soon I will be back."
The combative businessman's elevation expectedly prompted the BCCI to suspend the RCA indefinitely. It could also lead to its termination.
A defiant Modi said he is not afraid of the BCCI.
"Let them try. I am not afraid of that fight. I have not been afraid of any fight. If they want to cancel our affiliation, let them do that. That does not mean cricket in Rajasthan is going to stop. What are they going to do: not allow us to play matches? We are going to fight for our rights and fight for our boys."
Image: Lalit Modi