BCCI elections: Pawar has the edge

Published: Monday, September 27, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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With less than 24 hours left for the BCCI presidential elections, intense lobbying has begun in various quarters to choose a suitable candidate for the post of the world's richest sports body.

If the fast-paced developments in the past few days is anything to go by, the annual general meeting at Kolkata on Wednesday could see a contest for the presidential post go right down to the wire.

BCCI insiders say NCP supreme and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has a head-start since as no other name have cropped up at least officially, though the rumour mill has gone into an overdrive over the fact that Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) president and former law minister Arun Jaitley, and BCCI vice president and Haryana Cricket Association secretary Ranbir Singh Mahendra, Dalmiya loyalists would enter the fray.

Uptill now, the Maratha strongman has played his political cards well, first getting a feel of the situation and then opening up about his candidature. Defeating Pawar won't be insurmountable but it would take some doing.

As per the BCCI 's rotational policy, it's the turn of the North Zone to nominate a president. However, this is not a set precedent as there have been occasions when the likes of Inderjit Singh Bindra and late Madhavrao Sindia have won the BCCI presidential elections out of turn.

The chances of Pawar wresting the presidential elections have brightened considerably in the past few days following the stoic silence maintained by Arun Jaitley and Mahendra.

Jaitley, surprisingly has gone into a shell after initially smacking off speculation that he would be contesting. Sources say Jaitley, is bidding his time and waiting for the right time to announce his candidature. Actually, he had sounded out that he wouldn't be in the fray if any dirty politics is resorted to.

Even Mahendra has kept everyone guessing. A certain contestant, Mahendra is playing his cards close to his chest. Adding a further twist to the tale is the pronouncement of another BCCI vice president Kamal Morarka that he would also contest albeit with strings attacked.

Highly-placed BCCI sources say that Morarka, a former Dalmiya foe-turned friend is cut up with Mr Pawar contesting.

His grouse is that since Pawar is from the West Zone, he shouldn't contest and allow North Zone units to carry out the elections process smoothly. To put it simple, Pawar is unlikely to be bothered by Morarka's comments.

It's possible that both Jaitley and Mahendra may be acting under Dalmiya's instructions, to whom both look upto as big brothers and could sprung a surprise or two at the eleventh hour.

The Dalmiya camp would do everything possible to ensure that at least one of their "men" become the BCCI President, which would also enable Dalmiya to wield his huge clout as BCCI patron-in-chief.

Also, there seems to be a distinct lack of understanding within the North Zone units. That, the North Zone affiliated units are not an united lot can be well imagined from the fact that the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) had gone ahead to nominate Sharad Pawar, apparently peeved with lack of communication and prolonged silence of their North Zone aspirants.

Delhi, Jammu&Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Services Sports Control Board and Indian Association of Universities constitute the seven North Zone affiliated units, which would play a major role in deciding the fate of the contestants.

Former BCCI president Raj Singh Durgapur, a staunch supporter of Sharad Pawar, has even claimed that the NCP heavyweight should sail through as the he has garnered the support of 18 out of the 31 affiliated units.

So, going by the stats, it seems Pawar has everything going for him and is tipped to take over the mantle of presidentship from Dalmiya.

It's an open secret that there is lovelost between Pawar and Dalmiya. There have been instances in the past Pawar tried to dwarf Dalmiya within the BCCI. One could recall that Pawar had strongly backed A.C.Muthiah when the latter unsuccessfully contested against Dalmiya in the last BCCI elections three years back.

Notwithstanding that, a compromise formula however, cannot be ruled out. A shrewd soul and well-versed in man management skills, Dalmiya as BCCI patron-in-chief would obviously like to work with a president, someone he is comfortable with.

It is very much in the realms of possibility that Pawar and Dalmiya bury the hatchet and that would clear the decks for Pawar being elected unanimously. That's probably the only way to keep the BCCI new flock together!

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