Jagmohan Dalmiya’s sudden demise did not come as a surprise to anybody in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The Kolkata man’s health had deteriorated over the past few months. This gave the strong lobbies, headed by Sharad Pawar and N Srinivasan, enough time to plan their moves.
Sharad Pawar pays his last respects to Jagmohan Dalmiya at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Monday. (Below) Anurag Thakur and Rajeev Shukla AFP, PTI
One man, however, has good reason to worry. We are talking about BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur here. The 40-year-old Lok Sabha member from the Bharatiya Janata Party heads the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association. It may be noted that Thakur became BCCI secretary in March with the help of the Pawar camp and cross-voting from the Srinivasan camp. However, Thakur has done the West Zone lobby any favours since. Things have now come to a point where both Pawar and Srinivasan loyalists are keen on finishing Thakur off.
Thakur’s only hope is his ‘master’ Arun Jaitley. The role of the ruling party at the Centre could be critical. In March, there was talk of Pawar meeting BJP president Amit Shah to garner support. Pawar has told his close associates now that he is ready to step in “provided he wins hand downs after getting a proposer from the East Zone” whose turn it is to nominate the president.
Not surprisingly, some members from the Srinivasan camp have already dropped hints of supporting him to keep the Tamil Nadu strongman at the International Cricket Council of which he is chairman.
Given that the Supreme Court will hear the matter of Srinivasan’s eligibility to attending board meetings on October 5, there is not much anybody can do till then.
If nothing, the new Pawar-Srini combo could make Thakur’s position vulnerable. This is the reason the Thakur camp is floating the name of Rajeev Shukla for president. However, insiders say that this is just a ploy to deviate and keep the “third front” viable for any further compromises.
Thakur now has 15 days to run the BCCI on his own because, according to the constitution, he will have to call for an SGM to elect Jagmohan Dalmiya’s successor. With the South Africans set to touch base this week, and his home of Himachal Pradesh slated to host first T20 International game, Thakur has his hands full.
Srinivasan, on the other hand, has a loyalist in the East Zone. That man is Jharkhand’s Amitabh Chaudhary, a former IPS officer who is the BCCI’s joint-secretary. But knowing Srinivasan, this is only the beginning of another unpredictable phase for Indian cricket.