Backed by the outgoing president Sharad Pawar, union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh beat former India captain cricketer Dilip Vengsarkar by 47 votes to become the new chief of the Mumbai Cricket Association on Friday.
Vengsarkar, for whom the Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray had declared support, bagged 135 votes to Deshmukh’s 182.
The result ends a long-drawn battle between the Pawar camp and its dectractors, who said the Union agriculture minister who also heads the International Cricket Council, was not eligible to contest as he was not a permanent resident of Mumbai. Pawar declared that he was not in the race and instead backed Deshmukh for the top post of one of richest sports bodies in the country.
Vengsarkar contested on a keep-the-politicians-out plank, arguing that the game should be run by former cricketers.
However, the voters rejected all six of the contestants on his panel. The only consolation for the Vengsarkar panel was that Chandrakant Pandit, the former India stumper, and curator Nadeem Memon were inducted into the managing committee.
Pawar addressed the MCA’s meeting after the voting but left before the results were declared, saying he had to go to Delhi. He asked Vengsarkar, who is an MCA vice-president as is Deshmukh, to preside over the annual general meeting in his absence. But once the result was clear, Vengsarkar made an early exit and did not announce the election verdict though he was presiding over the meeting.
Gracious in victory, Deshmukh said he would try to use Vengsarkar's services in the best manner possible.