Narendra Modi: Will he be the 'X' Factor in Indian Cricket?
Narendra Modi's landslide victory in the recently concluded Indian general elections has been hailed by many. While there is a general anticipation of sweeping changes in the different political, social and economic spheres, a change in Indian sports - cricket in particular - can also be expected.
Narendra Modi was sworn in as India's 15th Prime Minister on Monday with 45 ministers taking oath as members of the cabinet. In the high-profile guest list was Amit Shah - a close aide of Modi who is credited for Bhartiya Janta Party's resounding performance in Uttar Pradesh. Shah is not just known for his political expertise but is also being tipped as a future vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
In fact, cricket aficionado Shah has been an active member of the Gujarat Cricket Association with Modi as its president. While experience may not be an issue, cricket administration in the country may see an overhaul if Shah - who has already represented Guajarat in BCCI's Annual General Meetings, becomes the vice-president.
As for Modi, he already outlined his vision for Indian sports when he reportedly said that Indian sportspersons should be treated like defence personnel when it came to their training. He has been quoted as saying that training facilities need to be improved urgently and that Indian sportspersons should be given every facility to excel.
While cricket in the country enjoys quality facilities when compared to other sports, Modi - through Shah - can bring in changes in BCCI as an organisation. This especially as N. Srinivasan - BCCI's president since 2011 - has been suspended by the Supreme Court as the board's chief. Even if the suspension is revoked by the apex-court, he is likely to face stiff opposition when his term officially ends in September.
Srinivasan's return is difficult for another reason.
With Modi as PM, if Shah becomes BCCI vice-president, Lalit Modi - banned for life by Srinivasan-led BCCI last year - may well return to cricket administration. Lalit Modi has been elected as the president of Rajasthan Cricket Association but has not been able to take charge. The BCCI has suspended Rajasthan for electing Lalit Modi, who enjoys the support of the state government run by BJP.
Meanwhile, Aditya Verma of the Cricket Association of Bihar, who has led the legal war against Srinivasan, congratulated Prime Minister Modi after his swearing-in ceremony.