The Supreme Court on Friday has allowed N. Srinivasan to attend the Board of Control for Cricket in India Annual General Meeting in Chennai on Sunday and even contest an election, but only just. The 68-year-old Tamil Nadu businessman is seeking to extend his innings as Board chief. His regular two-year term is coming to an end this month.
A two-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice A.K. Patnaik and Jagdish Singh Khehar on Friday said Srinivasan is free to contest an election but if elected, he will only be allowed to take charge after the court has disposed of a Cricket Association of Bihar application that is seeking to stop Srinivasan from associating himself with the BCCI in any capacity. On Monday, the apex court will once again deliberate on the petition and decide on Srinivasan's future.
The Bihar association, which in August moved the Supreme Court to institute a fresh panel to probe the Indian Premier League spot-fixing and betting scandals, had on Monday filed an application seeking an interim injunction restraining Srinivasan from attending the September 29 meeting. The petition, filed by Aditya Verma on behalf of the Bihar body, claimed that Srinivasan has no "moral authority" to vie for a third year as BCCI chief.
Srinivasan, considered one of the most influential men in the sport, agreed to step aside as Board president in June after his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested, and later released on bail, over alleged involvement in the betting scandal in the IPL. In recent days, however, Srinivasan declared his aspiration to run for president, saying he cannot be held accountable for the actions of a family member.
It remains to be seen how the BCCI reacts to Friday's Supreme Court order. Sources say it is only a "temporary" reprieve and under the circumstances, Srinivasan's appointment as BCCI boss for another year may lead to administrative issues in the Board. The BCCI's lawyers will now have to explore legalities Srinivasan could face in case the Board was to run by a caretaker president. So far, former president Jagmohan Dalmiya performed that role with Srinivasan calling all the shots from the background.
Barring a dramatic change in equations, it is unlikely that Srinivasan will be denied an extension as BCCI chief. He apparently has the numbers to back him as a candidate in case there is contest. According to well-placed BCCI sources, Srinivasan has got the support of all six South Zone affiliates - Tamil Nadu (his home state), Karnataka, Kerala, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh and Goa.
As per Board constitution, a presidential candidate wishing to contest an election must be nominated by two units from the incumbent's home association -- South Zone in Srinivasan's case. But with Srinivasan ensuring that all six South associations are behind him, there will be no "proposer" or "seconder" to push for a contestant.
Although names of former president Shashank Manohar and Sharad Pawar have done the rounds as possible candidates to challenge Srinivasan, nothing is official about it. Of course, a lot could change in the next two days. The deadline for withdrawing nomination is 1130 hours on September 28 (Saturday).
The Srinivasan camp is, of course, making sure that most BCCI members who attended Wednesday's SGM are in high spirits till Sunday. Several of them are currently enjoying an 'all expenses paid' holiday at the seaside resort of Mahabalipuram. While some have gone to the temple town of Tirupathi, a few have stayed back in Chennai. A couple of Board honchos like Dalmiya and Niranjan Shah (BCCI vice-president) had returned to Kolkata and Rajkot, respectively after the SGM in Chennai on September 25.
BCCI insiders reveal that Dalmiya, the Cricket Association of Bengal president, is set to be the next IPL chairman. This position will be Dalmiya's 'gift' for running the BCCI on behalf of Srinivasan for the last four months. Interestingly, it was Srinivasan who was instrumental in ending Dalmiya's run as a BCCI chieftain in 2005.