Uncertainty still looming over BCCI elections

Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Uncertainty prevails over the elections in BCCI, with the cash-rich sports body seemingly headed for a bitter two-day annual general meeting beginning here tomorrow, against a backdrop of a slew of court cases and allegations.

Despite a verbal offensive against the ruling group, the dissidents seem to be keeping their cards close to the chest, with political heavyweight Sharad Pawar yet to spell out whether he would be in fray for the president's post.

Mumbai Cricket Association president Pawar has remained noncommital so far and even postponed his arrival to the city yesterday saying he would decide on throwing his hat into the ring once court cases against the Cricket Board were settled.

However, as per the BCCI constitution, candidatures can be announced even on the floor of the AGM. The opposition lobby, led by two former BCCI chiefs I S Bindra and Raj Singh Dungarpur, was planning to raise a number of issues pertaining to the vexed television rights, the expenditure incurred by the Board on legal matters as also the recent spat between Indian coach Greg Chappel and skipper Sourav Ganguly in Zimbabwe.

The ruling combine, which would field incumbent Ranbir Singh Mahendra in the presidential elections, has been busy holding a series of group meetings to canvass support at a five-star hotel in south Kolkata where the Board's AGM is being held for the fourth time in succession.

Meanwhile, five cases have been filed at courts in Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan (2) on disputes about representations at the AGM.

Dalmiya said he was confused about whether elections would take place at all at the AGM in view of the cases lying before the courts. "I am totally confused. Press reports say that elections are on. But the elections depend on the outcome of the cases," he said.

Dungarpur, on the other hand, slammed the Board for the Ganguly-Chappel spat. "What happenned in Zimbabwe is unparalleled (in the history of Indian cricket). It reveals the failure of the ruling group in handling situations both on and off the ground.

"But these things, though unfortunate, are going to help us," in case there was an election for the president's post, he said. In a fresh twist to the unfolding pre-AGM drama, the Calcutta High Court today appointed Suhash Chandra Sen, a former Supreme Court judge, as an observer to ensure the elections were held in a free and fair manner.

Sen will have the authority to decide on the floor of the meeting disputes in the course of the election process. The order came in the wake of a petition filed by Kalighat Club, an affiliate unit of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).

In another development, the Madras High Court restrained the BCCI from holding the polls till 1230 PM tomorrow.The interim order was given on a civil suit filed by the Netaji Cricket Club, seeking appointment of a neutral auhtority to conduct the elections and to decide the eligibility of voters and contestants.

The AGM is also scheduled to elect the secretary, treasurer, joint secretary and five vice-presidents. The total number of votes is 31 - comprising 27 affiliate units, three institutional members (Railways, universities and services) and a vote to be cast by the president. The president also has the right to give a casting vote in case of a tie. The last edition of the AGM had seen acrimonious scenes with legal battles and murder threat allegations.

The meeting had ended inconclusively. It was reconvened a few days later and concluded within two minutes without conducting any business as per a court order. The Pawar versus Mahendra duel for the top BCCI post last yeat 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 rulin g 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 doing the rounds in this respect.

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