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Nair well ahead of Shah in numbers game

Calcutta: Niranjan Shah, who is less than a fortnight from completing one year as Board secretary, will be challenged by former treasurer S. K. Nair during Thursday-Friday’s AGM here.

While Shah made it on the A. C. Muthiah-ticket during the last AGM, in Chennai, Nair is the dominant Jagmohan Dalmiya-led group’s candidate.

Joint-secretary Jyoti Bajpai was also a contender, from the president’s group, but he ‘withdrew’ after an “internal meeting” Wednesday afternoon. Bajpai, then, is set to continue in the same position.

As of now, no other post will be contested, but the other group (Raj Singh Dungarpur is a spearhead) is keeping options open.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, a decision to challenge Bajpai and treasurer Kishore Rungta could be taken on the floor of the house — depending, of course, on how Shah fares.

If it comes to that, Pravin Barve and Dhyaneshwar Chand Agashe may oppose Bajpai and Rungta.

The office-bearers’ election is No. 6 on the agenda which has 15 items.

Incidentally, while Raj Singh will be present as Cricket Club of India president, it’s not clear how Muthiah will have a seat at the AGM. Neither has he been invited as a past president nor does he continue to head an affiliated unit — Tamil Nadu.

[For much of the day, there were whispers that Muthiah would come in via Bihar, but with the undivided Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) being reactivated, the solitary Bihar seat will be occupied by BCA president Amitabh Choudhary.]

At this moment, the numbers (20-plus out of 31) overwhelmingly favour the Dalmiya group and, so, Nair shouldn’t have any problem. Shah does have an extensive personal network, but it’s to be seen whether a one-to-one relationship will actually take precedence over (cadre-like) group loyalty.

In fact, if Wednesday evening’s trend continues, Shah could eventually decide not to contest.

Meanwhile, with the World Cup just months away, the composition of the (senior) selection committee has generated much interest.

Three changes are certain, while chairman Chandu Borde (West) is under pressure from Kiran More. Only Central’s Sanjay Jagdale has no worries.

Two have to be effected because Madanlal (North) and Ashok Malhotra (East) have completed the maximum of four years, while an “adjustment” finds the dapper Brijesh Patel replacing Shivlal Yadav, from South.

As was reported in these columns Sunday, Madan and Malhotra will be succeeded by Lok Sabha member Kirti Azad and Pranab Roy, respectively.

As for Borde, a former India captain, what may work in his favour is that he has already completed three years and, in any case, will have to relinquish office in 2003.

Traditionally, the decision on selectors is left almost entirely to the respective zones.

Ditto for the one vice-president from each of the five zones.

East and North will now be represented by Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and Ranbir Singh Mahendra, while Hyderabad (Ranga Reddy) will take the South seat currently held by Karnataka (K. Ramprasad).

Central’s Kamal Morarka will continue, while there’s no move to replace West’s Narhari Amin either.

Significantly, the Tamil Nadu president, N.Srinivasan, is tipped to be Nair’s successor as finance committee chairman.

If he agrees, the dominant group will have another feather in its cap.

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