Give Pawar a chance to deliver

Written by: S K Sham
Published: Monday, January 22, 2001, 16:00 [IST]
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Whatever opinion one may hold, in the world of politics, of Sharad Pawar, whose power game within the Congress twice proved unsuccessful to the point of his leaving the Party, the Maratha leader is not given to chewing cud after a healthy repast.

Even before the dust could finally settle down on what had undoubtedly been the most fiercely-contested elections to the Mumbai Cricket Association, the newly elected president of the premier body for the game in the country, called for a meeting of all the outgoing office-bearers as well as the new incumbents getting ready to take over.

Pawar, who defeated former India captain and the longest-serving cricket-manager of the Indian team, Ajit Wadekar, by a comfortable margin of 60 votes in Friday's election to the president's post, made it clear that he wanted bygones to be bygones and put forth a single-line agenda, "How to revive the glory that was Mumbai cricket." He sought everyone's co-operation in this regard.

In a meeting that lasted almost four hours on Sunday, Pawar let all those who count in the game's administration, to speak out their minds without fear or favour. There is no gainsaying the fact that the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) is beset with several problems, some of its own making and others forced on it by the continuing hostility with Garware Clubhouse. The Clubhouse, though a creation of MCA, has declared unilateral independence and even registered it self as a company, under the Indian Companies Act.

Sharad Pawar is also the president of the Garware Clubhouse and made no bones about the fact that the situation was indeed grim, what with constant trips to courts of law for even the smallest assertion of rights on either side.

"Given the appreciation of at least the major problem and pursuance of a commonality of purpose on both sides, I see no reason why all outstanding differences cannot be ironed out." said Pawar in a mixture of English and Marathi.

Pawar himself accepted that the ongoing tussle with the Garware Clubhouse had affected the working of the cricket body. He listed his priorities, even as he welcomed suggestions from members in whatever manner.

Pawar said that even as he would make every effort to solve all outstanding legal issues between the two bodies. For the record, it has cost the MCA Rs 1.2 crore in the last five years, in legal fees alone. Last year (1998-1999), the court battles resulted in payment of Rs 47 lakhs as legal fees.

It is ironical that the outgoing MCA president, Manohar Joshi, who presided over the momentous general body meeting last Friday, claimed the credit that the eminent lawyers appointed by the Association had given concessions, by charging only 60 to 70 per cent of their normal fees.

This, as the august body had realised, was a shame rather than a virtue. It highlighted the fact that the legal burden on the Association would have crossed the two- crore, if normal fees were to be paid.

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