BCCI’s reputation has taken a hit, says Sharad Pawar
N. Srinivasan’s crown may be slipping, after all. After artfully dodging a few bouncers, Indian cricket’s super king found himself teetering on the very brink on Wednesday, as calls for his removal from the post of president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) acquired an urgent shrillness.
While chairman of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Rajeev Shukla demanded that Mr. Srinivasan “stay away” [from the BCCI’s investigation process], Sharad Pawar, former president of both the Board and the International Cricket Council, said, “The BCCI’s reputation has taken a hit.”
“I am sad to learn of the malpractices in IPL through the electronic and print media. I would not have allowed this to happen,” said Mr. Pawar, who is also president of the Nationalist Congress Party.
Mr. Shukla, who met president of the Delhi and District Cricket Association Arun Jaitley, said: “He [Srinivasan] is an elected president. We are of the view, even Mr. Jaitley feels so, that it is good if he stays away from this procedure [of the enquiry commission going into spot-fixing allegations and the involvement of Mr. Srinivasan’s son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, in betting on the games].”
For its part, the Sports Ministry released a statement that read: “BCCI is inquiring into allegations of spot- and match-fixing. As there is a conflict of interest in this inquiry, the BCCI president should tender his resignation on moral grounds, pending the outcome of the inquiry.”
But Mr. Srinivasan made his own position clear before flying out of Mumbai on Wednesday. And the message was, he was not going to step down. “I will make only one statement. I saw Mr. Shukla’s interview just now. He has clarified and what he says is that a three-member commission is appointed and I should dissociate from the procedure. In fact, I have nothing to do with the commission. There are two independent retired judges [Mr. Jayaram Chouta and Mr. R. Balasubramanian] and the Secretary of the Board [Sanjay Jagdale]. They will go into the matter. So we will await that result. I will not react to individual members’ reaction,” said the BCCI chief.
On Tuesday, president of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association Jyotiraditya Scindia was categorical in saying Mr. Srinivasan should step down.
Last weekend in Kolkata, Board vice-president Mr. Jaitley and the former president, Shashank Manohar, had informally tried to persuade Mr. Srinivasan to step down pending enquiry. It was suggested that if nothing incriminating came out after the enquiry, Mr. Srinivasan could resume charge. But he maintained that he had done nothing wrong and would not resign. Eventually, the Board accepted his stand.
Meanwhile, Mr. Pawar supported Mr. Manohar’s view that all IPL matches be probed under the supervision of the Home Ministry. Mr. Pawar also found support from Mumbai Cricket Association chief Ravi Savant and the former cricketer, Chetan Chauhan.
There were also whispers in the Board regarding Mr. Shukla’s role in the ongoing controversy. “Should he also not quit on moral grounds since he is heading the IPL. Why was he silent all these days,” asked a senior Board official.
Predictably, Mr. Shukla himself indicated that he was not keen on holding on to the IPL post next year. The IPL chairman’s appointment is made on an annual basis.