The race to find a new cricket board president gathered significant momentum on Thursday with developments involving two senior figures underlining the maxim that there can be no permanent enemy or friend and it is all about protecting mutual interest.
Two functionaries at loggerheads coming together caught by surprise after N Srinivasan made a dash to Nagpur on Wednesday night to meet another former BCCI president Sharad Pawar. On Thursday evening, Srinivasan’s camp met in Bangalore and formally decided to back Pawar as a candidate to succeed Jagmohan Dalmiya as the BCCI president.
As many as 12 Srinivasan loyalists attended the meeting where Srinivasan announced that Pawar’s candidature was acceptable to him. According to members present, both the two factions have joined hands to resist the entry of IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla --- backed by board secretary Anurag Thakur’s camp. Even numbers have been worked out to ensure 21 votes for a majority.
The onus to convince the Bengal unit (CAB) and National Cricket Club has been left to Pawar, who is reported to have said that his equations with West Bengal chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, can help convince the two East Zone units to back his candidature. The development all but ends the hopes of BCCI joint secretary, Amitabh Choudhary, the Jharkhand association chief. Srinivasan has a clear agenda for supporting Pawar. Sources close to the ICC chairman said he will play his cards in an election where seems to have started with a clear majority.
It was learnt from sources privy to the Pawar-Srinivasan discussions earlier on Thursday that both are looking to protect their interests. “Srinivasan wants to protect his ICC representation; it is very much clear to him that it is in danger as the current regime has made up its mind not to send him to the ICC come the next AGM.
“Sharad Pawar too is in need of numbers as he is facing stiff opposition from the Thakur faction. In this scenario, Srinivasan has offered to support Pawar’s candidature in return for protecting his ICC position,” said the source.
Srinivasan’s position in cricket — both in the BCCI and ICC — is faced with uncertainties. Although the ousted board president heads the Tamil Nadu association, his eligibility to attend BCCI meetings has been questioned and a petition is pending before the Apex Court.
The Srinivasan-Pawar meeting overnight was followed by parleys on Thursday between the Pawar and Thakur factions. The Pawar faction in no uncertain terms conveyed that he would be their candidate, which is not acceptable to the Thakur camp. Similarly, the candidature of Shukla has been rejected by the Pawar camp.
Both camps had proposed alternate names. The Pawar camp was reportedly amenable to Arun Jaitley taking over, but the Thakur camp cited the senior BJP leader’s hectic political and ministerial commitments, instead conveying that former BCCI president Shashank Manohar would be acceptable. Manohar, who is in Mahabaleshwar on vacation, is not keen to take up the post.