Controversial administrator Lalit Modi's status as the president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association was on Saturday thrown in doubt after a rebel group claimed to have ousted him, a development which was strongly refuted by the loyalists of the former Indian Premier League commissioner.
On a day of hectic developments, the rebel group led by local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Amin Pathan claimed to have taken control of the RCA after an extraordinary general body meeting in Jaipur.
Pathan said he was elected as the acting president by the majority of the members in the meeting, bringing a dramatic end to Modi's tenure almost five months after he was elected to the top post.
But his claims were rubbished by RCA deputy president and Modi's close aide Mahmood Abdi, who said the meeting is unconstitutional and the group was trying to destabilise the organisation at the behest of N Srinivasan.
"These are completely fake claims. Firstly, the bylaws of RCA does not have any provision for this kind of a meeting. Secondly, who are these people to remove a body which came through elections which was conducted under the Supreme Court appointed observer," Abdi said.
It is learnt that 23 out of the 33 district cricket associations of RCA supported the move to remove Modi, who has been banned for life by the Board of Control for Cricket in India but came back as the chief of state association with an overwhelming majority in May this year.
With BCCI imposing a ban on RCA following Modi's election as its president, there was an impasse on the future of state's cricketers on their participation in the BCCI-affiliated tournaments.
In view of the stalemate, the Rajasthan High Court, in a recent judgement, formed an Ad-Hoc body of three separate selection committees to choose the various state teams for BCCI tournaments.
However, with RCA still remaining banned by the BCCI which hampered its smooth functioning, there was an unrest among members with a lot people supporting Pathan, a BJP leader from Kota, who is also the district association president from the region.
"We passed a no-confidence motion against Lalit Modi today. 23 out of the 33 district cricket associations of RCA supported the move to remove Modi. In the meeting we also removed Pawan Goyal (treasurer) and Mehmood Abdi," Pathan said after the meeting.
"Tomorrow we will go to the BCCI and seek their advice on the future course of action," he said.
He said that the players will be able to play in various domestic tournaments.
"The teams will represent Rajasthan, but not under the usual banner of the Rajasthan Cricket Association. But the players' future would not get hampered," he said.
But Abdi, on the other hand, warned of stern action against the rival group.
"These are cheap tricks being played by N Srinivasan and his cronies to destabilize the RCA but they won't be successful in their bid. We will be taking strongest possible action against Amin Pathan, who is a turncoat", he said.
Abdi, who is also Modi's legal counsel, alleged that claims made by Pathan-group are false.
"A lot of people who represented the district units were unauthorized members. Also how in the world did they hold a meeting which was not held in the RCA premises and at a altogether different location. What was the need to hold the meeting clandestinely.
"These are handful of disgruntled people, who are trying to play it into the hands of Srinivasan. But they won't be successful," Abdi added.
The elections in RCA was held in December last year but the results were announced only in May this year in the wake of a prolonged legal tussle.
The BCCI had banned Modi after its disciplinary committee found him guilty of misappropriation of funds during the second and third editions of the IPL.
While Modi's confidante Mahmood Abdi ran the show and took up the battle for his boss with the BCCI convincing 75 players of various age-group to file a case against the BCCI, four of the prominent cricketers including a former India Under-19 captain, a Test player and an India 'A' player along with an IPL player did not sign on the dotted lines making it clear that all was not well within the RCA.
"Four senior players Pankaj Singh, Ashok Menaria, Robin Bist and Dishant Yagnik did not sign the legal document when RCA moved court against BCCI. So it's not that all players were happy with the functioning of current regime," a top RCA official said.
It is also learnt that BCCI's convenor for Rajasthan Amrit Mathur visited Jaipur a few days back to take stock of the situation and also spoke to the anti-Modi group.
BCCI's General Manager (Game Development) Ratnakar Shetty reached Jaipur to finalise the dates of the selection committee meetings as well as inform that RCA will be able to host all its home Ranji Trophy matches in the state.
While there are possibilities that Modi and Abdi might take legal recourse against this move, the ruling group is planning to hold an election and come to power with proper mandate in a few months.
Image: Lalit Modi
Photograph: Chirag Wakaskar-IPL 2010/IPL via Getty Images