The meeting to elect new office bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is more than a week away. But media reports suggest that at a meeting on Sunday in Hotel trident in Mumbai, the list of nominees was finalised with the approve of an influential union minister believed widely to be Amit Shah.
Union Minister of State Anurag Thakur was present to convey what the ‘ Shah’ of Cricket wanted and Brijesh Patel, who was all set to emerge as the consensus candidate for BCCI President’s office, was sidelined in favour of Sourav Ganguly. If ‘ Dada’ does become the BCCI President, as reported on Monday by The Telegraph and others, he would be the first Cricket Captain to function as BCCI President.
Reports suggest that Ganguly, who heads the Cricket association of Bengal ( CAB) was offered initially the Vice President’s post but he declined. It was then that Anurag Thakur stepped in and conveyed that the ‘Shah’ wanted Dada as the President till September, 2020 after which he would have to go through a mandatory cooling off period of three years. Three years later Ganguly would still be 50-51 years old and can return as BCCI President.
Given Shah’s single minded devotion to win elections, it is not surprising to find several observers concluding that political considerations ahead of the next West Bengal Assembly election weighed in favour of Ganguly. Ganguly himself has refrained from commenting.
There were too many politicians in the BCCI, felt former Australian Cricketer Ian Chappel in 2015. But despite the recommendations of the Mukul Mudgal Committee, the Lodha Committee and the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators headed by former CAG Vinod Rai, politicians and dynasts seem to be back in control of Cricket in India.
N Srinivasan, Niranjan Shah, Anurag Thakur, Amit Shah, Parimal Nathwani and Chirayu Amin are no more part of the Board of Control for Cricket in India after the new BCCI constitution made them ‘ineligible’ for the job.
However, on the day the term of the Supreme court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) ends on October 23, when BCCI general body will meet, among the new faces will be the children, siblings or family members of the old guard.
At the informal meeting of state cricket associations on Sunday, a consensus was reached for Ganguly as President, Home Minister Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah as the new secretary and Anurag Thakur’s brother Arun Singh Dhumal as the treasurer.
The media reports triggered a sharp reaction on social media. Some of the early tweets are the following:
Not only in the central governing body but state associations too seem to be going through a similar phase and witness the return of politicians , the old satraps or their nominees.
Daughter of former BCCI N Srinivasan, Rupa Gurunath is the new Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) president. In Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA), new president is Jaydev Shah, the son of Niranjan Shah, who was its secretary for over four decades.
The Gujarat Cricket Association also has Rajya Sabha MP and ex-state association vice-president Parimal Nathwani’s son Dhanraj as its new vice-president.
Former BCCI president and current ICC chairman Shashank Manohar’s son Adwait has been holding the office of vice-president at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) for the last five years. Yadhupati Singhania head Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association (UPCA), after his father Gaur Hari’s almost two-decade-long reign. In Chhattisgarh, ex-Cricket Sangh president Baldeo Singh Bhatia’s son Prabhtej now chairs the state body. State associations like Mumbai, Goa, Odisha and Nagaland, too, have embraced family connections.
In the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), president Sourav Ganguly’s uncle Debashish is the new treasurer and his elder brother and former Bengal Ranji cricketer Snehasish is an Apex Council member. Avishek Dalmiya is the state association secretary, but he came into cricket administration only after the death of his father Jagmohan Dalmiya in 2015.
Former BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale said the above appointments defeated the spirit of Lodha reforms. “I’m no longer directly involved with the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA). But we don’t have any family connections there. It’s a generation change now, as the Lodha Committee recommended. It’s a fresh team at the MPCA.”
CoA chairman Vinod Rai said he had nothing to say on the matter. “Our job is purely clinical. Because our job is to fulfill a certain mandate given to us by the Supreme Court. I have no views on this issue at all. Who wins the election, I’m agnostic about it.”