Whoever wishes to occupy the chair vacated by Jagmohan Dalmiya will have to knock at the door of N Srinivasan. As of now, only Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) president Sharad Pawar has — overtly or covertly — expressed his desire to become the next president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). And given that the two heavyweights are “on the same page” now, it’s more or less clear that Srinivasan will support him.
However, this new-found friendship between the Chennai-based cement baron and the veteran politician has put Shashank Manohar in a tight spot.
Like Srinivasan and Pawar, Manohar, too, is a former BCCI president. A staunch supporter of Pawar, the Nagpur-based lawyer used to be on very good terms with Srinivasan. Simply put, they made one of the strongest president-secretary combinations in the history of the BCCI. But over the past couple of years, Manohar and Srinivasan don’t see eye to eye. How Manohar takes the news of Pawar seeking Srinivasan’s support is anybody’s guess. Often hailed as the ‘Mr Clean’ of Indian cricket, Manohar has consistently maintained that “Srinivasan is the root of all scandal” in Indian cricket.
There was a time in the BCCI — 2008 to 2011, to be precise — when Manohar and Srinivasan used to fly to Dubai to attend International Cricket Council meetings in the latter’s private plane. “Srinivasan used to pick Manohar up from Nagpur, fly to Dubai, attend meetings and drop Manohar back before going to Chennai. They were great friends,” a BCCI insider said. The passing of the torch was as seamless as the numerous pleasant flights they undertook. When Manohar completed his term, Srinivasan took over as president.
Trouble started when Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested for his role in the 2013 IPL betting and spot-fixing scam. Meiyappan was the team principal of the Chennai Super Kings, owned and managed by India Cements Ltd, of which Srinivasan is vice-chairman and managing director. When Srinivasan refused to step down, Manohar joined the chorus of detractors and slammed him at every given opportunity.
Manohar launched a scathing attack against Srinivasan as recently as July this year. This was after the Justice RM Lodha Committee suspended the Chennai Super Kings for two years besides banning Meiyappan from taking part in any cricketing activity.
“Srinivasan should have stepped down in 2013. No individual is ahead of institution and he is the root of all scandal. He should immediately step down from his position as chairman of ICC,” Manohar had said then. “There has been no action from BCCI to clean the mess and the board’s work is done by the Supreme Court. The BCCI has to be proactive and look at the interest of the institution and not that of an individual (Srinivasan) in order to re-impose faith in the minds of the people.”
It’s obvious that Pawar will have to ensure Manohar keeps his views on Srinivasan to himself. “If Pawar wants to become president, he needs our support,” a member of the Srinivasan camp said emphatically. And what if Pawar doesn’t manage to keep Manohar quiet? “Well, then, he won’t become president,” came the reply.