BCCI election again heading for close finish

Published: Monday, November 28, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Kolkata:The much-awaited election for top posts in the Cricket Board seems headed for a close finish tomorrow with both factions claiming to have the numbers to seize control of the country's richest sports body.

After earlier attempts to elect office-bearers, including the President, were stalled amid legal wranglings and mud-slinging, the stage is now set for a fresh round of battle which will see Jagmohan-Dalmiya backed Ranbir Singh Mahendra and Union Minister Sharad Pawar lock horns for the coveted chair.

The election this time around is expected to be transparent and trouble-free with the Supreme Court appointed Observer T S Krishnamurthy spelling out clear guidelines for the conduct of the polls.

Though the game of numbers appears to be tilted towards Pawar, the Dalmiya faction also seems to have narrowed the gap by getting four of its votes cleared by the Observer.

Krishnamurthy, a former Chief Election Commissioner, not only cleared the 30 affiliates but also allowed incumbent Mahendra to exercise his vote as chairman of the two-day 76th AGM of the Board.

The suspense over representation, that led to bitter court battles and bad blood at the last AGM as also the adjourned Meeting in September, ended a little after noon with Krishnamurty resolving the disputed cases and releasing the full list of members allowed to vote.

Krishnamurthy, who had been bombarded with thousands of pages of petitions, counter-petititions and documents by both the factions, allowed representatives of Delhi and District Cricket Association, National Cricket Club and Jharkhand State Cricket Association to attend the AGM.

The Observer had earlier questioned the eligibility of these units, so today's ruling came as boost for Dalmiya group as all these units are considered close to it.

The ruling group also benefitted from the Observer's decision to allow Jyoti Bajpai-led Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association to vote and also the reversal of earlier order debarring the chairman from exercising his vote.

Dalmiya camp has already announced the name of Bajpai as its candidate for the post of Treasurer.

As per earlier practice, the BCCI President as the AGM's Chairman could cast three votes, as a representative of his association, by virtue of his position besides an additional vote in case of a tie.

The practice would be continued in this AGM though the Observer pointed out anomalies in the BCCI constitution in this regard and asked for the matter to be clarified for future meetings.

Krishnamurthy's decision to allow vote to the Jharkhand body spelt doom for the Bihar Cricket Association, which had got the nod on Thursday.

The dispute between the JSCA and the BCA had seen lot of twists, the latest being the sudden emergence of Dalmiya loyalist Kirti Azad who claimed that his organisation Cricket Control Association of Bihar be given associate membership by disaffiliating BCA, which was a follower of the Pawar-I S Bindra camp.

Amidst the setbacks, the good news for the opposition lobby came in the form of presidential challenger Pawar being allowed to be nominated from West Zone, and the green signal given to Rajendra Zar to attend the meeting as representative of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association nominee instead of Dalmiya loyalist Anurag Thakur.

The Rajasthan Cricket Association, led by the vocal member of the opposition combine Lalit Modi, was also cleared by the Observer.

Krishnamurthy said only the elections for the four top posts - president, secretary, joint secretary and treasurer - would be conducted under his observation.

The ruling combine has nominated incumbent Ranbir Singh Mahendra for the president's slot, and elevated joint secretary Goutam Das Gupta for the secretarial contest and Brijesh Patel for the posts of joint secretary.

On the other hand, the dissenters named political heavyweight Pawar as their presidential candidate, and fielded Niranjan Shah, M P Pandove and N Srinivasan for the posts of secretary, joint secretary and treasurer respectively.

Unlike on previous occasions, the elections to these posts would be held simultaneously and the names of all the contesting candidates for each of the slots would figure in the same ballot paper for the members to indicate their choices.

With the voters's list out, the process of filing nominations began and was over by 6 pm.

Two sets of nominations were filed for Pawar. While one set of papers had Ajay Sirke of Maharashtra as proposer and Niranjan Shah of Saurashtra as seconder, Baroda's Chirayu Amin and Raj Singh Dungarpur of the Cricket Club of India proposed and seconded the other set.

Delhi's C K Khanna was the proposer, while Haryana's Arvind Chowdhary seconded Mahendra's nomination.

Goutam Das Gupta said the nominations for the posts of vice president and other committees would be done on the floor of the house after the elections to the four top posts were over.

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