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The ruckus called Rajasthan

Cricket politics in Rajasthan is intrinsic to the politics of the state, writes Arjun Sen.

cricket Updated: Sep 24, 2009 02:42 IST
Arjun Sen

Controversies and the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) have always had a natural affinity for each other. Whether it’s the countless cases against its officials - past and present — or it’s the seemingly never-ending faction wars within it, the RCA has been in the news for a whole lot except cricket.

Cricket politics in Rajasthan is intrinsic to the politics of the state.

The RCA is almost an extension of the party in power. Lalit Modi’s reign in the RCA coincided with the Vasundhara Raje Scindia-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, while the Congress-backed Sanjay Dixit took over when Congress’s Ashok Gehlot was Chief Minister.

With that in mind, Sunday’s developments, after which two people are claiming to be the RCA president, presented a sharp change. That Modi’s faction would be able to mobilise enough support to rise against Dixit’s ‘arbitrary way of running the RCA’ and ‘elect’ their own president surprised even the RCA members.

Modi could never come to terms with his five-vote defeat to Dixit earlier this year and was believed to have been plotting a way back into the association.

It was never going to be easy. Especially not with the Gehlot government in power.

This government had slapped a number of cases on Modi, and seemed determined to bring a man, who, according to them, ‘had misused his connections in the BJP government for his personal benefit’.

Add to the domicile clause in the revamped RCA constitution, which barred Modi from contesting elections, and RCA’s doors looked shut for the IPL commissioner.

That, however, was before Dixit fell out with one of his closest aides and former secretary Ashok Ohri.

That was perhaps the first sign that Modi and his men could forge a way back, and it got better when Subash Joshi - one of Modi’s most vocal critics — threw his weight behind the demands of removing Dixit.

And though Modi has maintained his silence so far, it is the timing of the revolt that has Dixit and his supporters pointing towards a conspiracy theory.

With reports of an ongoing cold war between BCCI secretary N. Srinivasan and Modi doing the rounds and Modi losing his right to vote after losing RCA, the move to remove Dixit and install his own man, in this case, Rajendra Singh Rathore, is being seen as his final throw of the dice.

Constitutionally, however, the RCA doesn’t allow for a change in president unless the incumbent resigns - something that Dixit is not planning to do.

The battle lines have been drawn once again in the RCA, and Modi might have to take on the entire state machinery to win this one.