Backroom politics and rumour ahead of BCCI AGM

Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Kolkata:Intense backroom politics, court manoeuvres and unending speculation over possible electoral contests have given a dramatic twist to the two-day BCCI Annual General Meeting beginning September 22.

The centre of activity is 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, led by former Board chief Jagmohan Dalmiya, has been engaged in meetings among themselves to finalise the strategy for the elections.

Political heavyweight Sharad 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," Rajsingh Dungarpur, a leading light in the opposition camp, told PTI from Mumbai.

So far the Maratha strongman has kept both his supporters and detractors guessing by being non-commital on the issue. But 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." Dungarpur, however, exuded confidence that Pawar would win by a handsome margin.A further dimension has been added to the meeting following the recent rift and the much-publicised patch up between national team coach Greg Chappel and skipper Sourav Ganguly in Zimbabwe and the dissidents could raise the matter at the AGM.

Meanwhile, an influential BCCI official belonging to the ruling group said the slew of court cases which have been slapped against the Board in the last few days were meant to "disturb the AGM".

The opposition lobby, spearheaded by former BCCI chief I S Bindra and Dungarpur, has held some informal discussions in Mumbai and the activity in the camp would pick up once the big names land in the city.

The last edition of the AGM was witness to acrimonious scenes with legal battles and even murder threats vitiating the atmosphere before the meeting ended inconclusive. The Pawar versus Mahendra duel for the top BCCI post had ended in a tie, before Dalmiya gave his casting vote to ensure his nominee's victory.

With the present secretary S K Nair completing his three-year term, interest also surrounds the possible choice of candidate from the ruling group for the coveted post. The names of BCCI joint secretary Goutam Dasgupta and National Cricket Academy Director and former Test cricketer Brijesh Patel are being heard in this respect.

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