The dissidents, led by Raj Singh Dungarpur, came out with bold statements but gave no clear indication on whether Sharad Pawar would challenge the Jagmohan Dalmiya-backed ruling faction. Adding to the drama was a suit filed by Netaji Cricket Club in Madras High Court seeking appointment of an independent authority to oversee the conduct of the AGM.
Fearing that elections to the Cricket Board would not be conducted in a free and fair manner, it said "it is necessary that an independent authority be appointed to act as chairman of the BCCI in the said AGM so as to ensure that the conduct of the election is totally fair and transparent."
While Dungarpur and Lalit Modi, the Rajasthan Cricket Association President, claimed that Pawar was almost certain to contest for the post of President, the Maratha strongman himself remained non-commital. Pawar, who is also the Mumbai Cricket Association President, said he would take a decision on contesting for the post of BCCI President once court cases against the Cricket Board were settled.
"I am told that there are five cases pending in the court. Let us see what the court is going to decide," Pawar said. Asked if he would be going to Kolkata for the AGM on September 22-23, the Maharashtra stalwart said, "I am not going to Kolkata today. Tomorrow also I am cancelling the trip.
I am just waiting for the court (to give its decision)." With just two days to go for the high-profile AGM, the centre of activity was fast shifting to a five-star hotel - which has been the venue for elections since last three AGMs - in South Kolkata with the arrival of the principal players owing allegiance to the two rival factions.
BCCI President Ranbir Singh Mahendra is already in town and the ruling group has been engaged in meetings among themselves to finalise the strategy for the elections. Pawar, who unsuccesfully contested against Mahendra last year, is at the centre of all discussions with the opposition lobby repeatedly claiming that he would again throw his hat in the ring.
"As far as my knowledge goes, Pawar will be contesting," Dungarpur told PTI from Mumbai. As per the BCCI constitution, a representative could announce his candidature even on the floor of the AGM. A BCCI functionary belonging to the ruling faction, however, said "If they (Pawar and his group) want a contest, we have nothing to say. They will again bite the dust.