Come September, several 'power' equations are expected to change in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). With N. Srinivasan's position in the Board becoming increasingly fuzzy, new 'lobbies' would have started working behind the scenes already. Former president Jagmohan Dalmiya has already urged for a 'clean' BCCI and Sharad Pawar, another ex-BCCI chief is also speaking on similar lines.
In BCCI, there are no permanent friends or enemies. Most elections are situational dramas where 'forces' join hands to 'overthrow' the common adversary. The constitution provides for a president to be elected on a rotational basis and finally, the affiliated units comprising a zone decide the 'fate' of a candidate. For example, when Srinivasan got a year's extension as BCCI president in September last year, all six South Zone units 'voted' for him. Come September 2014, it will be East Zone's turn to choose a president. (Also read: BCCI accepts Supreme Court's interim order, to work out modalities)
Technically, Srinivasan can stand as BCCI president again. He must then have the majority of the East Zone units voting for him. As of today, Srinivasan is in pole position to get a nomination from East. Out of the six votes, he is probably assured of four - Orissa, Jharkhand, Tripura and Assam. Bengal and National Cricket Club, a bastion of Dalmiya, are undecided. A look at the current top positions in the BCCI committees will see officials from Orissa, Jharkhand, Tripura and Assam occupying plum positions in the Board. Ranjib Biswal (Orissa) is the IPL chairman while Amitabh Choudhary (Jharkhand) is the chairman of the Board's very important marketing committee.
After Friday's Supreme Court interim order, Srinivasan's position both in BCCI and ICC is becoming unclear. If the court appoints an inquiry into the IPL match-fixing and betting scam and maintains status quo of its order, then Srinivasan will have to stay 'suspended.' This will give the other bigwigs an opportunity to re-align forces and win the confidence of voters from East Zone. It won't be an easy task.
Pawar has reportedly said he doesn't want to be in the BCCI any more. At this stage of his life, it is important for Pawar to manage his political career better than handling cricket affairs. In any case, as Mumbai Cricket Association president, Pawar can always 'nominate' his choice and then start the 'bargaining' process. Shashank Manohar, another BCCI president with a clean image, will surely emerge as a front-runner. Manohar was apparently keen to return last year but didn't want a 'contest' against Srinivasan.
"When we (Pawar and Manohar combine) ran the BCCI, we distributed power whereas Srinivasan tried to consolidate power only in his hands which brought cases of conflict of interest. That's why matters went to the court. Whatever has happened is not good for cricket," Pawar has said.
Interestingly, it was the Pawar-Manohar-Lalit Modi and Srinivasan axis that overthrew Dalmiya after a bitter battle in 2005. Today, Srinivasan is much hated by Pawar and Modi. Dalmiya joined hands with Srinivasan last year when the latter stepped aside for a few weeks after the Indian Premier League scam broke. The BCCI dynamics are really so fluid. However, Dalmiya will never forget the past. It is unlikely that he will side with Srinivasan again after recently slamming the Tamil Nadu strongman's regime and way of functioning. A Dalmiya-Pawar-Manohar axis cannot be ruled out.
Between April and September, a lot can happen. The court is always unpredictable. When the top court on Friday allowed Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals to play this year's IPL, it felt that the tournament and teams should not suffer. The court was spot on. The judges' mood was clear -- a few corrupt and power-hungry persons should not overtake the beauty and fun of T20 cricket.
The IPL corruption case hearing reopens on April 16, the same day the cash-rich T20 tournament starts in Abu Dhabi. The BCCI counsel will almost certainly try to salvage Srinivasan's position. To defend the 'corrupt' and the 'guilty' is an art. So far, the Board's lawyers have failed to impress the Supreme Court bench. Srinivasan's future in BCCI and ICC remains under a cloud.
With so much at stake, can cricket in India ever get the justice it deserves? 2014 could be a watershed year in the history of cricket administration in India. BCCI could actually turn a new leaf. But a lot will depend on the judiciary and its ability to judge what is right and what is wrong.