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