The stage is all set for Shashank Manohar to take over as the president of the BCCI when the special general body meeting of the cricket body takes place in Mumbai on Sunday. But in true BCCI style, there was a lot of intrigue and hectic parlors behind the scenes for the premier post of the BCCI following the demise of Jagmohan Dalmiya. Sunday’s SGM could witness the end of the Srinivasan era in the annals of the BCCI.
“The very fact that Shashank Manohar a big critic of the ICC president N Srinivasan is set to take over shows a change in the internal politics of the BCCI. This is the first time that there is clear cut indication that Srinivasan is no longer at the helm of affairs in the BCCI,” said a former BCCI official. The fact that Srinivasan has preferred to stay away from the meeting and instead asked the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) vice president PS Raman to attend the meeting shows the winds of change have begun to blow in the BCCI.
“There is no doubt that he (Srinivasan) has lost his vice like grip on the BCCI. Following Dalmiya’s death in office, Srinivasan tried his best to convince the BJP that Shashank Manohar should not be made the president. But then the fact that his rival factions—the Sharad Pawar and BJP factions joined hands to dash the Chennai strongman’s hopes of controlling the BCCI,” said a former BCCI official.
It must be mentioned here that there was a dramatic change in the power dynamics. For less than a day after Shashank Manohar refused to contest for the premier post, the Nagpur lawyer ended up as the overwhelming favourite for the coveted post. The Sunday Guardian has learnt that Manohar enjoyed the joint support of both Sharad Pawar group and the BJP faction headed by Arun Jaitley. The masterstroke came when both Manohar and Ajay Shirke managed to meet Arun Jaitley at the latter’s residence on Thursday. “I think that meeting was the crucial masterstroke. Had Jaitley refused to meet up both Manohar and Shirke then things would have been different. But once he (Jaitley) met both of them it was virtually decided that Manohar’s endorsement would be complete,” said an official.
And the official endorsement of Manohar came when BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur announced Manohar as the president in the press box during Tuesday›s practice game between India A- and South Africa at the Palam. “It was very surprising that he (Thakur) turns up unannounced in the media box to make such an important announcement,” said a scribe. Thursday’s meeting was about finding a mutually acceptable candidate. Manohar, who has a squeaky clean image and a no-nonsense approach to administration, soon emerged as the favourite. However, he has repeatedly refused to enter the poll fray after completing his term as BCCI president in 2011, given the mess in the board.
It has been understood that Shashank Manohar changed his mind only after Jaitley and Pawar both endorsed his candidature. With Shukla too throwing his weight behind Manohar, the forthcoming SGM may not even see a contest. In a 30-member board, the BJP and Pawar factions together control 23 votes, making it a virtual no-contest for Manohar. In such a scenario, Srinivasan is unlikely to field a candidate even if he finds one. There is every possibility that Manohar will be elected unopposed in an action replay of his anointment in 2008 when he had succeeded Pawar as the BCCI president.
Given their resentment against Srinivasan, the Pawar and BJP factions should have been natural allies. The two factions, however, had strong reservations about each other’s candidates. The BJP camp was against Pawar’s return to the helm of the BCCI, while IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla was not acceptable to the other party. A BCCI insider pointed out that Manohar’s strong denouncement of Srinivasan on Friday not only put paid to the Tamil Nadu strongman’s hopes of playing kingmaker, but also pushed the Pawar and BJP factions to mend fences.