There have been BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) presidents who were more powerful figures, but N Srinivasan, the current chief, will probably go down as the most authoritarian to hold the post. But that was the story till a month ago, when no file in the board moved without his concurrence. Today, after allegations of betting against his son-in-law surfaced, he enters the board’s corridors like a fugitive, the media hounding him at every step, thrusting their mikes at his face with only one question — are you resigning?
It is the result of his eroding power base. He wouldn’t be surprised about calls for his resignation coming from former BCCI chiefs Sharad Pawar or I S Bindra — they do have a history. But, the fact that this week people such as Arun Jaitley, Rajeev Shukla and Ajay Shirke — all known to be in his camp — are inclining towards such a stance shows that it is only a matter of time before the axe falls.
His equation with Pawar and Bindra changed when, against their wishes, Srinivasan led the revolt against the then Indian Premier League chairman, Lalit Modi, and ousted him.
While Pawar has an accommodating style, he doesn’t like his authority being questioned and Srinivasan antagonised him even when he was ICC president by defying the world body at public forums. Bindra stayed loyal to Modi all throughout and Pawar also tried to protect him as Modi had won them the great board war against Jagmohan Dalmiya in 2005. For helping the Pawar camp end Dalmiya’s domination in the board, they rewarded Modi by gifting him a toy called the Indian Premier League. Things didn’t turn out as they were and the toy has grown into such a monster that it deflected the spotlight from the BCCI to the League’s officials. He ended up making many powerful enemies in the board, including Srinivasan and Shashank Manohar, former president of the BCCI.
Till Saturday Jaitley and Shukla were firmly behind Srinivasan but they chose to take a stand against him.
Dalmiya is no fan of Srinivasan but had been completely sidelined in board politics since the Pawar reign began. The current controversy has given him the opportunity to become a strong player again and he has jumped on the bandwagon of cleaning cricket by getting rid of Srinivasan.
The most powerful voices in the central zone — Shashank Manohar and Jyotiraditya Scindia — have too taken a stand against Srinivasan. The former was seen as his biggest ally when they took on Pawar, so his statements have surprised many. Scindia will be seen as the man who changed the tide against Srinivasan with a firm statement when all were dithering.
AC Muthiah is nobody now in the board but as former board president, his opinion carries weight. There is no love lost between the two, once known to be friends.
Where money abounds, power games can be ruthless. In the corridors of the BCCI, there’s not much to distinguish between friends and foes. It all depends upon which side the wind is blowing, and Srinivasan will vouch now it’s blowing against him.