It was quite unusual to see BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur pay a flying visit to the media box at the Air Force Complex in Palam on Tuesday. All the BJP leader wanted to do, really, was make a big announcement. And so he did. “Shashank Mahohar is our unanimous choice (for BCCI president),” Thakur told reporters.
“We have called for a Special General Meeting (SGM) on October 4 in Mumbai to elect the next president,” he said. Earlier in the day, Thakur also met the Justice RM Lodha Committee, appointed by the Supreme Court to suggest administrative reforms to the BCCI. “I had a one-hour meeting with the committee. The BCCI has implemented the committee’s first set of recommendations in toto and we are waiting for their (next set of) suggestions,” he added before catching a flight to Geneva
Thakur’s decision to jump the gun and announce Manohar as his group’s candidate has not happened all of a sudden. Board insiders say that it was a well calculated plan by the 40-year-old to make his position safe.
Keeping in mind how things have panned out after the death of Jagmohan Dalmiya, it is surprising that a person like Manohar’s candidature has been accepted by the powers that be. The names of Rajeev Shukla and Amitabh Chaudhary were floated to create confusion amongst the three lobbies controlling the 29 BCCI votes (excluding Rajasthan, which is suspended).
However the Thakur lobby, controlled by senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, was dilly-dallying before committing itself. Having been through this himself during the last elections where he could not get a proposer and a seconder from the East Zone, Pawar played a master stroke and decided to meet former BCCI president N Srinivasan in Nagpur last Wednesday.
It was their fifth meeting in the last three months. According to BCCI insiders, it was Srinivasan’s last ditch attempt to cover some ground by offering his “unconditional” support to Pawar or his nominated candidate.
Had Pawar joined forces with Srinivasan, the ruling group could have done nothing about it. An emergent meeting between Manohar, Ajay Shirke and Jaitley, at the latter’s residence, turned out to be crucial. Thakur was also present.
“It was important for the Thakur-Jaitley faction to keep the BCCI under their control. They didn’t want to want to give Srinivasan any chance of making a comeback,” a member of the Pawar camp said.
dna has reliably learnt that Jaitley, Thakur, Manohar and Shirke arrived at a consensus of sorts. They felt that only someone with an impeccable image guide the BCCI out of this mess.
Given how the cricket associations of Delhi (DDCA) and Jammu and Kashmir (JKCA) have sullied the image of the BCCI, the leaders pitched for a strong leader. Manohar then suggested that Jaitley take over. The finance minister, however, refused the offer. He put the onus back on Manohar.
In the end, Srinivasan’s decision to offer his support to Pawar proved worked in Manohar’s favour. It enabled the Nagpur-based lawyer to checkmate his bête noire from Chennai.
In one stroke, hopefuls like Shukla and small fries like Chaudhary were cut to size.
State of shock
The Pawar camp’s decision to go with Jaitley left the Srinivasan group in shock. From a position of kingmaker, the ICC chairman now finds himself isolated. But knowing well how Srinivasan has changed equations in the past, one cannot rule him out till October 3, the last day for filing nominations. For now, it’s a done deal with Manohar set to occupy the big chair. If Pawar was the frontrunner after Dalmiya’s death, the Nagpur meeting last Wednesday changed it all in no time. A reluctant Manohar has suddenly being seen as the BCCI’s saviour. But what about Lalit Modi and Srinivasan, who have a lot more to lose following this particular elevation of Manohar?