India Today - - COVER STORY -

BCCI was formed in De­cem­ber 1928 as a pri­vate club con­sor­tium reg­is­tered un­der the Tamil Nadu So­ci­eties Regis­tra­tion Act, 1975. While con­trol of the board was al­ways sought af­ter, il­lus­trated by the bat­tle of one- up­man­ship be­tween the Ma­haraja of Pa­tiala, the Viceroy Lord Willing­don and the Ma­hara­jku­mar of Viziana­garam as early as 1931, it was only in post- lib­er­alised In­dia, when money came in through tele­vi­sion rights, that the fights be­came cut- throat and un­for­giv­ing.

The wind­fall over the last 20 years, in which BCCI has grown ex­po­nen­tially, has made the stakes so high that elec­tions are of­ten de­cided by swing votes con­trolled by a small group of dis­senters, lead­ing to the kind of drama wit­nessed dur­ing a trust mo­tion in Par­lia­ment. In a bit­ter 2001 elec­tion, Pra­fulla Kumar Ma­hanta, the head of the As­sam Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion, had to be per­son­ally es­corted by a Dalmiya aide from his Hu­mayun Road res­i­dence in New Delhi to Chen­nai, where the elec­tion was be­ing held. Ma­hanta’s nom­i­nee had al­legedly switched sides at the last minute, forc­ing Dalmiya to or­ches­trate an in­ter­ven­tion that would en­sure he won back the pres­i­dency from the in­cum­bent Muthiah. As the ac­ri­mony has grown over the last decade, the re­moval of a BCCI pres­i­dent has of­ten been ac­com­pa­nied by court cases and charges of mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion.

The mo­ment of tran­si­tion can be traced back to Novem­ber 1991, when the South African cricket team was about to tour In­dia for their first in­ter­na­tional as­sign­ment af­ter a 21- year ban for apartheid. A cou­ple of weeks be­fore the three- match one- day se­ries, Ali Bacher, the supremo of the South Africa cricket board, called then BCCI sec­re­tary Dalmiya ask­ing how much it would cost to tele­cast the matches in South Africa. BCCI didn’t know who owned the rights, the govern­ment or the board. Af­ter a se­ries of ne­go­ti­a­tions, BCCI es­ti­mated the se­ries could be sold for up to $ 10,000 per match. But when Bacher made an of­fer of $ 60,000 for the se­ries, Dalmiya played hard­ball and closed the deal for $ 120,000. On Novem­ber 14, dur­ing the fi­nal ODI at Delhi’s Jawa­har­lal Nehru Sta­dium, Bacher handed BCCI chief Mad­havrao Scin­dia a cheque from the South African Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion— the first time BCCI was paid for an In­dia se­ries by a for­eign broad­caster.

Twenty- two years later, STAR Group pays BCCI Rs 3,851 crore to tele­cast cricket matches on In­dian soil from 2012 to 2018. This trans­lates into a fee of Rs 32 crore per match be­tween 2012 and 2014, and Rs 40 crore per match be­tween 2014 and 2018. Modi. The 49- year- old for­mer czar of Twenty20 cricket, now in self- im­posed ex­ile in Lon­don, had first made his way into the club through his po­lit­i­cal con­nec­tions. A new state Sports Bill en­acted in Ra­jasthan by then chief min­is­ter Va­sund­hara Raje paved the way for Modi’s vic­tory in the Ra­jasthan Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion ( RCA) elec­tions in 2005 by re­strict­ing the vot­ing to dis­trict as­so­ci­a­tions and al­legedly is­su­ing a dik­tat that they must side with him. This made Modi a part of BCCI, which em­braced him as it does all new en­trants.

The per­cep­tion is that Modi’s trou­bles started af­ter charges of fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and em­bez­zle­ment were raised against him in 2010, but in re­al­ity his prob­lems be­gan the mo­ment he lost the RCA pres­i­dency in a con­tentious elec­tion to IAS of­fi­cer San­jay Dixit, who was backed by the new Chief Min­is­ter Ashok Gehlot. No longer a vote- bear­ing mem­ber with ac­cess to BCCI’s in­ner sanc­tum, and with IPL run­ning on its own steam by then, Modi be­came

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