The Indian cricket board elections are known for twists, turns and drama, and Monday - at the BCCI AGM in Chennai - was no different. While it was a foregone conclusion that Jagmohan Dalmiya would return as president, it was elections to the other key posts that were the focus of attention.
Dalmiya returned to the top post after nearly a decade, this time unopposed. It was the post of secretary that grabbed the attention. Anurag Thakur, backed by the Sharad Pawar group, defeated incumbent Sanjay Patel of the N Srinivasan group by one vote. Hectic behind-the-scenes parleys by the Pawar group and Thakur caught the Srinivasan faction off-guard.
Together, they pulled off the best political trick. Of the 30 votes - 29 associations and one vote of the chairman (Shivlal Yadav) - 15 went in favour of Thakur while Patel garnered 14, with one vote being left blank, in other words rendered invalid.
Thakur exercised his political clout, calling up people who matter within his party and outside to pull off a coup of sorts as he realised that his reputation and that of the likes of Pawar and Shashank Manohar was at stake.
The voting pattern that emerged showed that the Srinivasan-backed group received around 17-15 votes at least for all other positions except for the secretary's post - and that is where the nervousness in the Srinivasan camp was apparent the night before the elections.
"We can safely say that the numbers are clearly with us. But there is only one contest, for the post of secretary where we are not sure of our flock," an important member of the Srinivasan camp, who had an inkling of cross voting, had told HT on Sunday night. "He (Anurag) has knocked at all possible doors, and is at it relentlessly, so it will be a little tight for us," he added.
With an air of suspicion all around, members of the Srinivasan camp strongly felt that someone from either the North or East Zone would drop a blank vote to facilitate Thakur's victory.
The victory of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association president has dual significance - he has not only redeemed the group's position but also dealt a massive blow to Srinivasan by clinching the all-important post.
Apart from Thakur's victory, the Pawar-led group was outnumbered as all other candidates lost. Anirudh Chaudhry defeated former Union minister Rajeev Shukla 17-13 for the post of treasurer. For the post of joint secretary, Amitabh Chaudhary defeated Chetan Desai in a tie-breaker. To break the deadlock at 15-15, chairman Yadav exercised his discretion and voted for Chaudhary.
The Srinivasan group also bagged the posts of all five vice-presidents. CK Khanna defeated former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia by a margin of 16-14 from the Central Zone, while TC Mathew defeated Ravi Sawant from the West Zone. Three other VP candidates from the Srinivasan Camp - Gautam Roy (East), G Gangaraju (South) and ML Nehru (North) - were elected unopposed.
Representing BCCI at ICC meetings
The annual general meeting of the BCCI may have given the Srinivasan camp a tough fight in the election of office-bearers, but at least on one count the veteran cricket administrator had his way - he ensured the ratification of item No. 12 on the agenda, which was to appoint a BCCI representative to attend ICC meetings and similar conferences.
Srinivasan was the unanimous choice for representing the Indian board in the ICC.
It is clear that the compromise the Srinivasan camp had with Dalmiya in fact had an in-built demand that there would be no resistance to Srini's representation in the ICC, and he will be the sole representative on behalf of the BCCI.
Given Dalmiya's failing health, he was not too keen on attending ICC meetings.
"It helps when the person, who laid the groundwork for restructuring the ICC recently, represents BCCI's interest in the world body. So, there was no issue on this count despite the fiercely-fought elections... there was unanimity over Srinivasan's representation in the ICC," said a member who attended the AGM.