‘Only against CoA being opaque, violating spirit of court orders’: Amitabh Choudhary

Ask those in charge why there seems to be little interest in reforms, says BCCI’s acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary.

cricket Updated: Jul 03, 2018 13:59 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Amitabh Choudhary,BCCI,CoA
BCCI acting general secretary Amitabh Choudhary (L), pictured here with Rahul Johri (C) and Diana Edjuli, says one should ask those in charge why there seems to be little interest in reforms. (BCCI)

The Indian cricket Board (BCCI) officials’ tussle with the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) shows no signs of ending. BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary, in Dublin to attend the International Cricket Council AGM, has been at the centre of the row with CoA.

However, Choudhary says issues have risen due to his disagreement over alleged violation of process and his actions are in keeping with the spirit of the orders passed by Supreme Court.

Excerpts:

You seem to be in constant conflict with CoA.

There is no truth in it. There may have been sharp differences on certain issues such as proposed appointments to non-existent positions, departure from processes, transparency and accountability and am glad I held my point of view. These were issues of law or legal interpretations.

READ | We have plans for Virat Kohli, says England captain Eoin Morgan

In one of my communication to CoA I had begun with a chart where I had mentioned several examples, and each had the interpretation of CoA, interpretation of office-bearers and the verdict of Supreme Court. On all those occasions our view was vindicated.

Now if an appointment is sought to be made behind the back of elected office-bearers or the general body responsible for these appointments and I am expected to sign such letters, I will not do it.

The Supreme Court’s order of January 2 and 20, 2017, and on March 24, 2017 reiterated that office-bearers do exist. Had that not been the case, while removing the president and secretary, why did the court go to the extent of directing that the seniormost vice-president will act as president and joint secretary as secretary? If it (SC decisions) come into conflict with those of CoA, that in no way means I am in conflict personally.

WATCH | Upbeat India gear up for tough England test

The CoA was appointed to perform the primary task of implementing the reforms as embodied in the judgement of July 18, 2016. On his (CoA chief Vinod Rai) appointment he had publicly said he had been helicoptered in, and when asked by when the reforms were to be implemented, he had mentioned October 2017 as the deadline.

Six-seven months have elapsed since. I have done my part after I submitted my undertakings to the court. I had gone out of the way in persuading 12 full-member associations to see the reforms in their true spirit and try our best to implement them. That is why as many as 12/13 full members have agreed to the reforms, barring the few points of impracticability.

The COA is not happy with your travel plans. You travelled for 110 out of the first 169 days of this year and your travel has cost the BCCI R52 lakh. The three acting officials’ entire travel has cost about R1 crore. Now you have to take permission to travel…Is that a fair call?

It is a very interesting question. In fact, it is amusing. You began with saying the COA is not happy with my travel plans. This will translate into the fact that the COA is not happy with the constitution of the BCCI, which says that the secretary is the convenor of almost all committees.

How can the secretary help if he is the convenor of every committee, apart from other formal and informal meetings in which the secretary is always involved? This involvement is part of the rules and regulations, which constantly results in travel.

READ | International Cricket Council to impose heavy ban for ball tampering

If at all, unhappiness should be correctly expressed with the rules and regulations, and not with the individual who is abiding by them. How is it that this information is leaked, and the test as to why and how it is being leaked is best answered if you ask: who benefits from the leaks and who is being targeted? Has this not demonstrated that these are figments of a prejudiced mind.

The SC said CoA has power to run the Board till the Lodha report is implemented. But you are seen as a stumbling block.

One must remain conscious of the fact that like CoA even the acting secretary is an elected appointee of the Supreme Court… I am surprised and curious because for one full year, not only was I not a stumbling block, CoA had certified to the court that the only office-bearer who seems to be for reforms is the secretary.

All that has changed is that in the last four months I have disagreed vehemently on opaque processes and violations of the spirit of the court orders, and (that is) in the interests of BCCI and cricket.

The CoA termed the recent SGM null and void. Does it amount to contempt of court?

The court has never suggested the general body or any of the committees do not exist. Besides, the GB has met several times with the knowledge of the court. Surprisingly, till December 2017, the general body had the consent of CoA to take decisions on very important matters. What has been the change except that the secretary has disagreed with your decisions for substantial reasons?

The CoA has issued a show-cause that you didn’t keep it in the loop about format change in ICC regarding Champions Trophy. Who took the final call?

All proposals in the ICC are initiated, formulated and considered first in the chief executive committee’s meeting. I don’t represent India in the CEC. So, you must put this question to the person who represents India in the CEC or has been representing India in the CEC over the last two meetings.

READ | Pressure on England, India to play fearless cricket: Virat Kohli

Therefore, this allegation is completely unfounded and made for reasons best known to those making it. Recently, a proposal for a similar conversion of Asia Cup was mooted and it was I who strongly opposed it so that the original one-day format remains.

There was brouhaha over players’ salaries where BCCI had been opposing. You eventually agreed.

The problem is I don’t know which prism is being used to look at things. There is a system; if these contracts are to be considered, they are to be done by a committee which comprises the president, secretary and selection committee chairman. It must go through the selection committee as well.

I am convenor of both the committees. I can vouch that none of these committees met. Shouldn’t I inquire, or should I at least not put it to the general body? Something which is institutional is being converted to a personal matter.

Why is there no headway in implementing the Lodha report? Do you think this constant clash between acting officials and CoA is hurting BCCI interests?

I have already submitted truthfully that it is my effort which has led to 12 or 13 full members of BCCI agreeing to the recommendations in writing, barring two or three difficult points, as had been mandated by the court on July 24, 2017. So the question should be put to others who have been made in charge of implementation and who seem to have displayed little interest in reforms.

READ | Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav promise to leave England in a spin

I have done my bit and wish to go any distance in the interest of reforms… Those who have been specifically appointed to implement the reforms are the ones who should be answering this question even more. I am all for it.

Does BCCI need a CEO with a fat salary?

I will not answer this question.

Most BCCI officials want to stay in cricket administration. Delhi elections show how officials seek to run an association by proxy. You are also calling the shots in Jharkhand despite being ineligible. What is the greatest attraction to be a cricket administrator in India?

This is a very general question. The reforms were brought in only to ensure inflow of fresh blood. I welcome them and have been able to do substantial work in this direction. However, once the new rules are in place, those rules will be abided by.

If there are individuals getting around those rules, ways and means will have to be found to deal with it. Insofar as my situation in Jharkhand is concerned, the association with which I was associated was founded in 1935. From 1935 to 2002 it was run by an individual or an officer of a steel company, which means the association functioned as an appendage of a private company from Jamshedpur. I was the first to break the shackles.

READ | Journalist Rajat Sharma elected Delhi and District Cricket Association president

It is not the case that I have instituted or perpetuated vested interests… (My effort) has not only brought fresh blood, the association has not only done progressively well in national tournaments but has given several players to the country such as the national junior captain and the shining jewel, MS Dhoni. I don’t flex muscles nor do I exert any influence.

Bihar cricket is in a shambles. Internal politics is not helping matters. How can you play a positive role there?

Informally we have been trying to make different associations in Bihar see the truth that they must all jointly work so that justice to Bihar is not further delayed. In fact BCCI has already taken a call; even CoA has taken a call. Things are being done in phases.

First Published: Jul 03, 2018 09:06 IST