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The woman behind the Deepika Padukone cleavage furore defends her ‘hiring’ by BCCI

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BCCI office-bearers have questioned her appointment as general manager by the CoA, not least because she has courted controversy in the past.

Mumbai: Priya Gupta’s appointment as the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) general manager for marketing, digital and communication has snowballed into another conflict between the Committee of Administrators (CoA) and office-bearers. However, Gupta herself has responded to questions over her background, saying there’s no ambiguity about it.

Speaking to ThePrint, Gupta said: “My background is very well known and respected. There is no ambiguity about it. I come with a certain amount of respect and values from my work in the past. I don’t know what anyone is even talking about.”

The Supreme Court-appointed CoA, comprising former Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai and former India women’s captain Diana Edulji, offered Gupta the job on 28 February at a reported salary of Rs 1.65 crore per annum, which she accepted. Gupta was asked to join on or before 7 April 2018, when the Indian Premier League is scheduled to begin.

Gupta, who currently works as president and co-producer at T-Series, said she had no comment to offer on the tussle between the CoA and the office-bearers on her selection. “As of now, there is no job to talk about. I have been working for 25 years with reputed companies, and currently I am co-producing Bollywood films,” Gupta said.

Gupta’s appointment is the latest bone of contention between the office-bearers and the CoA, who have had choppy relations ever since the SC-appointed committee took charge of the board’s affairs.

BCCI functionaries complain that the CoA is going beyond the Supreme Court directives of simply advising and supervising their work, and has been curtailing their powers.

Gupta was at the centre of the ‘Deepika Padukone’s cleavage’ controversy

In a chain of emails, which ThePrint has accessed, Amitabh Choudhary, BCCI acting secretary, refused to sign Gupta’s appointment letter, saying neither he nor other office-bearers nor the general body were part of the decision. He has also raised issues like the fact that the position did not exist, and neither was it recommended by the SC-appointed Justice Lodha Committee. He said the general body should have been allowed to consider the appointment before any decision was taken.

In his latest email to BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, Choudhary raised questions on background checks of the candidate by the private recruitment agency, Korn Ferry, hired for the purpose. He hinted at office-bearers’ concerns on a 2014 article that Gupta authored on actor Deepika Padukone, while she was working with The Times of India. Gupta defended the publication after it courted controversy by tweeting a video of Padukone, commenting on her cleavage.

“I trust that Korn Ferry must be undertaking a complete background check independent of the information provided by the concerned applicant. A simple search on the internet revealed the following stories mentioning the candidate selected for the post, we are presently concerned with, regarding an article that the person co-authored, the content of which are for everyone to see,” Choudhary said in the letter dated 22 March, alluding to the controversial article.

A BCCI source said: “The office-bearers had absolutely no idea that the CoA was even looking for candidates for this post till they received the email for the approval of Gupta’s appointment. They don’t know which other candidates were considered, or when Korn Ferry was put in charge of the recruitment.”

As per a report compiled by Korn Ferry, which has been reviewed byThePrint, 48-year-old Gupta has been working with T-Series Films since 2016. Previously, Gupta was with Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd for 13 years, working as managing editor and marketing head for the metro supplements in her last assignment at the company which publishes The Times of India, among others.

A post-graduate diploma holder in business management, Gupta has worked with companies such as Apollo Tyres, LG Electronics, Gillette, and Hindustan Times in the past.

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