Kolkata: Partially, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is fast turning into an organisation for sons and daughters. Brothers too!
The 2019-2020 season is for the chosen families, quite clearly.
Friday saw Arun Thakur, younger brother of former BCCI president Anurag Thakur, now a Union minister, become president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association.
Former BCCI president Narayanswami Srinivasan’s daughter, Rupa Gurunath, was anointed the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association president Thursday.
Srinivasan has been having the final word in the association ever since Dr A.C. Muthiah’s ouster many moons ago.
Earlier, former BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah’s son, Jaydev, became the Saurashtra Cricket Association president. The senior Shah has been the face of the association for decades.
Jaydev, of course, has played 115 first-class matches, so that definitely is a plus. But would he have become the president had he not been Shah’s son?
Veteran Goa administrator Vinod Phadke’s son, Vipul, has taken over as secretary of the Goa Cricket Association.
That is not all.
Former BCCI vice-president Chirayu Amin’s son, Pranav, is a candidate for the Baroda Cricket Association president’s post. The senior Amin has been in a long-standing tussle with erstwhile royal Samarjit Gaekwad for control of the association.
If not more daughters, expect more sons to try and take centre stage in the units affiliated to the BCCI. Maybe, the odd brother as well.
Also, let us not forget Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s son, Jay, was till recently a joint secretary of the Gujarat Cricket Association; Shah is himself its president!
Then, former BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra’s son, Anirudh Chaudhry, directly called the shots in the Haryana Cricket Association till the Supreme Court order on 18 July 2016. It is inconceivable that Anirudh, who is the BCCI treasurer, will not indirectly still control the affiliated unit.
If one dwells on Madhya Pradesh, it has seen the rule of the Scindias.
‘Cronyism, control by proxy’
One of the objectives of the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee’s game-changing reforms, which formed the basis of the Supreme Court’s order 38 months ago, was to root out well-entrenched administrators.
The administrators have officially called it a day, but unofficially, it is an entirely different ball game. The hold of the one-time strongmen is intact. Perhaps, even more firm.
“What we have seen over the past week is nothing but cronyism, control by proxy,” somebody very closely associated with the Justice Lodha Committee told ThePrint. “We have done our bit, let the morality of it all and the violation of the spirit of the Justice Lodha Committee’s recommendations be addressed by Mr (Vinod) Rai.”
Rai chairs the three-member Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA).
Niranjan Shah had a counter. “Ours is a democratic nation, not an autocratic one. All, including relatives of former administrators, have a right to contest elections in affiliated units of the BCCI,” Shah argued, speaking exclusively.
Naturally, the impression was that Shah, not his son Jaydev, would remain the centre of power in Saurashtra (like, for example, Srinivasan in Tamil Nadu).
To that, Shah replied: “How can you say that? Jaydev is the president and you should not sit in judgement without seeing him function…
“However, it is a fact that I have built the association and, obviously, will not allow it to crumble if there is a crisis…
“Jaydev has the right to consult anybody. Why assume nobody else would be consulted and I will dominate or be the actual power behind the chair? Moreover, why should people target administrators in cricket? Sons and daughters have been known to take over from their father or mother in politics and in business, to cite two examples.”
That is a point.
When somebody senior in the BCCI was contacted, the person said: “Thakur’s brother, Shah’s son, Srinivasan’s daughter and Phadke’s son have come through an election process. They cannot be condemned only for being close relatives of key players in their associations.”
The reality is that the CoA cannot intervene. In any case, it has few friends.
While on families, it is relevant that former India captain Sourav Ganguly and Avishek Dalmiya became office-bearers in the Cricket Association of Bengal after the demise of their respective fathers.
The age factor
Niranjan Shah made a telling point when asked what he felt about the 71-year-old Rai issuing one directive after another ahead of next month’s AGM of the BCCI, directives which have included the disqualification of those over 70.
“It is for Mr Rai to reflect on the age factor, it is for him to understand. I am 75 and believe I have played a role in the advancement of cricket (in the region)…
“Why have an age restriction only for cricket administrators, when such limits do not apply elsewhere…
“My contention is that performance should count. Did cricket advance under the BCCI as it was before the Justice Lodha Committee or not? Take a poll and I am convinced the answer would be in the affirmative.”
Shah was the Saurashtra Cricket Association’s secretary from 1973 till 2016 — all of 43 years.
Some record, surely.
Meanwhile, the next president of the BCCI will be one who has the blessings of the Shah who matters the most at this point in time, Amit.