New Delhi: Till Tuesday afternoon, he was virtually unknown to the cricket-crazy Indian media. But after his Public Interest Litigation questioning the validity of the independent two-member Indian Premier League probe commission investigating the alleged spot-fixing and betting scandals around BCCI president N. Srinivasan and his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan shook the world's richest and most powerful cricket association, 48-year-old Aditya Verma from Patna is a much sought-after man.
After the Bombay High Court on Tuesday struck down BCCI's panel as "illegal and unconstitutional", Verma flew in to New Delhi on Wednesday evening to file a caveat in the Supreme Court. "If Srinivasan appeals to a higher court, which he surely will, they will have to invite my counsel as well. We will not let him get away easily," Verma said in an exclusive chat with sports.ndtv.com.
Verma is a former junior cricketer and an ex-Tata Steel employee. He is the secretary of the Cricket Association of Bihar, one of the three bodies vying to gain BCCI recognition. Verma runs his family pharmaceutical business in Patna and is known to be close to a very senior BJP MP with Bollywood connections. Excerpts from a telephonic conversation:
Q: Your PIL has shaken the BCCI administration. What does the Bombay High Court order mean to you?
A: When we filed the PIL on June 15, there was enough merit in our case. We pointed out the flaws in the panel composition because BCCI was breaking its own rules. Plus, Srinivasan and his son-in-law were opaque in their dealings after the spot-fixing and betting reports surfaced. Since the cricket bosses were doing nothing to control the damage to Indian cricket, I as a cricket lover had a role to play.
Q: What are you trying to achieve by this PIL? Srinivasan says the court order is no big deal. The BCCI is just too powerful for you.
A: When we filed the PIL in June, we were also very circumspect. We were told that BCCI never loses a court battle and it hires the best lawyers to defend them. This Bombay High Court order is a slap on its face. Srinivasan, who claims to have served the BCCI as an honorary member for almost eight years, has a private jet, is overflowing with wealth, pride and arrogance. The High Court order should put him in his place. And we not let him escape. If he goes to the Supreme Court, we will see him there. (Also read: N Srinivasan refuses to comment)
Q: I read an interview in a leading vernacular daily that Srinivasan's people requested you for an out-of-court settlement. Is that correct?
A: Yes, I was called up by unidentified people asking me to meet the "boss" and settle matters. I am assuming the boss is Srinivasan. I was told that it was pointless to fight the BCCI and it will not help Bihar cricket. They wanted me to be part of their 'team' and work together. (Lalit Modi warns BCCI members not to blindly support Srinivasan)
Q: What was your reply?
A: I was very clear. When I filed the PIL, there was no personal agenda. The IPL scandals threw too much dirt on Indian cricket and Srinivasan's family and Rajasthan Royals were party to it. The world scoffed at us after the spot-fixing and betting reports broke out. When your son-in-law goes to jail, it's disgraceful. The BCCI did nothing to punish the offenders. The media played its role but Srinivasan was defiant. When I filed the PIL, Srinivasan's men tried to lure me to withdraw the case.
Q: Did they offer money?
A: (Smiles) Such things are never said in public. You can guess what they offered!
Q: Do you think the PIL will stop Srinivasan from running the BCCI the way he has?
A: That is BCCI's call. They have respected members in their Board. Let's see how they handle him. At least, when Srinivasan attends the August 2 working committee meeting (probably as the president of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association), he may not be able to see members in the eye. (Srinivasan back as BCCI chief, say sources)
Q: You said there is no personal agenda. Then what's your target in doing all this?
A: I still say there is no personal agenda. I have two goals. First, Indian cricket should be rid of people who have shamed the game by amassing wealth in an inappropriate manner and second, I want Bihar to play Ranji Trophy cricket again. (Till Jharkhand was separated and given separate status by BCCI in 2000) Bihar had been in mainstream cricket since 1935 but for the last 13 years, our boys don't get a chance to play. The Cricket Association of Bihar was formed in 2007 and our appeal for affiliation is with the Supreme Court. We trust the law will take its right course. That's all.