Such is the void left by Jagmohan Dalmiya that three cricket organisations have to look for a president. And in at least two of them — the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) — the hunt for a successor may not be smooth. Dalmiya also helmed the National Cricket Club (NCC), a BCCI affiliate from East Zone with voting rights.
Don’t rule out power play at the cricket board and CAB with political overtones. The frosty equation between factions led by N Srinivasan and secretary Anurag Thakur will make the search for Dalmiya’s successor more complex. Ditto at the CAB, where Dalmiya had kept political players at bay in his long stint as president.
Dalmiya’s death is likely to strengthen former BCCI chief Sharad Pawar’s renewed interest in the top post. Pawar is said to be enjoying the Thakur faction's support. Former BCCI chief Shashank Manohar, ex-secretary Niranjan Shah and Ajay Shirke too are reportedly part of this group. It therefore may not be a coincidence that Manohar, Pawar and Shirke came to the Eden on Monday afternoon in the same car.
In the evening, Pawar held a meeting with his loyalists in Mumbai where representatives from Saurashtra, Maharashtra and Vidarbha rallied around his candidature. The group, according to sources, strongly backed Pawar after failing to persuade Manohar. "We want someone with stature to be the next board president, and we strongly felt Pawar is the right man. Besides, we will not allow Srinivasan at any cost to take control of the BCCI again," said a source.
It is unlikely that the Srinivasan camp will give up without a fight. BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry and joint-secretary Amitabh Choudhary qualify as candidates from that camp. The pending Supreme Court decision on whether Srinivasan can attend BCCI meetings would be a big factor too. The August 28 working committee was adjourned because of this.
Sourav Ganguly pays his respects during Dalmiya’s funeral at Eden Gardens. (Subhankar Chakraborty/HT and PTI Photo)
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla is a dark horse but may pull out should Pawar make his interest public. In case of a divided house, it will be down to East Zone to exercise its discretion. Its six associations -- Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Tripura and NCC -- will be wooed by both factions if a contest is inevitable. There is a possibility that a top BJP union minister with excellent equations with Srinivasan tries to find a solution.
At the CAB, a working committee meeting must be called in two weeks and a decision taken to set a date for a special general body meeting. That meeting must happen within three weeks of the working committee. Dalmiya’s successor will be decided there and it will have to be seen whether the ruling Trinamool Congress throws its weight behind cabinet ministers who are part of the Bengal body.
Perhaps the smoothest succession plan is with NCC. Accused of not holding AGMs and elections regularly and not revising its membership rolls, the club’s officials recently met Dalmiya and had agreed to significant changes. Among the changes proposed was to make Avishek, Dalmiya's son, an office-bearer. Till last Thursday, when Dalmiya, who had called an NCC meeting, was admitted to hospital, there was no need to look for a president. That has now changed.