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

The Economic Times - - Front Page -

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.

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