As Political Pitch Turns, Modi Factor May Come into Play in Cricket, Too
People close to Modi likely to take up positions in BCCI and state cricket bodies
RAVI TEJA SHARMA
The changing political climate in Delhi could trigger realignment at the Indian cricket board, with people known to be close to Narendra Modi taking up key positions in BCCI and state cricket bodies.
Not only is Modi’s key aide Amit Shah, who is the current vice-president of the Gujarat Cricket Association — Modi is the president — poised to replace Sharad Pawar-led Mumbai Cricket Association’s Ravi Savant as BCCI’s vice-president from the west zone at the upcoming AGM in September, Lalit Modi, former IPL commissioner who has been banned by the cricket board, could make a comeback. BCCI officials, who did not want to be named, added that much is in store for Arun Jaitley, a key BCCI member, touted to become the country’s finance minister.
Pawar, former BCCI and ICC president, who currently heads the MCA, is not expected to back Savant from the west zone, and is likely to support Shah. Shah will also be backed by all the three boards in Gujarat, the GCA, the Saurashtra Cricket Association and Baroda Cricket Association, two former presidents of the board and a former secretary told ET, asking not to be named. Gujarat, which has three associations, will have three votes, so will the government (one each from services, railways and the universities control board). One more will come from a state association that has affinity to the BJP. “Pawar is known to have a very good personal equation with Narendra Modi and would not mind such a change for various reasons. We are keeping an eye on the political realignments at the Centre,” one of them said. “Just one group with seven votes in a 30-vote scenario is huge. There are five posts of vice-presidents and four of office bearers on offer, which could tilt the scales,” said one former president. Counting for the 2014 elections will take place on Friday, but various exit polls have predicted a victory for the BJP led by its PM candidate Modi. The affairs of the board, which is run through a trust, have come under the spotlight with allegations of betting and mismanagement by its administrators, many of whom are India’s leading politicians. The Supreme
Lalit Modi, former IPL commissioner who has been banned by the cricket board, could also make a comeback
Court recently appointed former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar as the interim chief for the 2014 IPL, after it asked president N Srinivasan to step down till investigations into alleged betting, match-fixing and conflict of interest involving players, owners and administrators are completed. The probe is being handed over to a Supreme Court appointed panel. While a rigid Srinivasan has stood his ground so far, problems for him have been rising. BCCI insiders say it now looks difficult for Srinivasan to come back as president in September as the probe against him and others in the spot-fixing and betting scandal will not be over by then. “This time the president will be someone who has the support of the powerful Gujarat lobby. Though, like in politics, even in BCCI you can’t write off anyone forever,” says a top official from Gujarat, who has held key positions in BCCI as well. “Things change very quickly within the BCCI. The board’s opinion about suspending the Rajasthan Cricket Association could change soon, especially if there is a push from Gujarat.” The RCA was suspended earlier this month when it elected Lalit Modi as its president.