The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Threat of Eden immolation by Laloo XI

Patna, Nov. 12: Eleven state cricketers have resorted to a morbid way to pressure the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) into recognising the Laloo Prasad Yadav-led Bihar Cricket Association as the governing body for the sport in the state.

The cricketers have threatened to set themselves ablaze in front of Eden Gardens when Calcutta hosts the final of the tri-series involving Australia, New Zealand and India next Tuesday. They began a relay hunger strike at Moin-ul Haque stadium here today.

The aggrieved sportsmen, who have come together under the banner of the Bihar Players’ Association, today shot off a letter to the President urging him to intervene.

“Even after three years’ wait, with Bihar having failed to get justice from (the) BCCI, we are left with no other alternative but to resort to agitation. So we began our agitation here today. However, if we don’t get any response from the BCCI by November 18, we have to take the drastic step of ending our lives near Eden Gardens,” the petition signed by BCA president Mrityunjay Tiwari said.

When Bihar was bifurcated in 2000, the BCA had decided to retain its office in Jamshedpur as it was initially registered there. But it was later decided to set up two ad hoc committees— one each for Bihar and Jharkhand — to ensure a smooth handover of power.

On March 18, 2001, the BCA office in Jamshedpur framed a constitution for the Cricket Association of Jharkhand. It was decided that the BCA name would be used by the cricket association in Patna; the body also retained its constitution.

Both associations applied for BCCI recognition.

After the bifurcation of the cricket body was set in motion, the BCA office was shifted to Patna. The president’s post was handed over to Laloo Prasad.

The BCCI wrote to the BCA in August 2001, saying it had been granted affiliation. But the affiliation was withdrawn the next month.

While the Laloo Prasad-led association fought a legitimacy case in court, test cricketer-turned-Darbhanga MP Kirti Azad formed another body — the Association of Bihar Cricket — with the help of senior cricketers. Azad said the BCA was being run by non-cricketers and had no credibility. “I believe my association commands more respect and credibility,” Azad said.

Undermined by the Azad-led body, the Laloo Prasad-led association says it wants to secure a good deal for Bihar cricketers. Tiwari said: “There is no future for the cricketers in Bihar. We have to crawl before the BCA head office in Jamshedpur for something which is our right....”

The president of the players’ association said though some Bihar players are permitted to play inter-state cricket, the number is small. They are often badly treated by BCA office-bearers hailing mainly from Jharkhand.

Tiwari said players representing Bihar were not given accommodation during an under-19 match held at Jamshedpur recently.

With Tiwari and men trying to pressure the BCCI, it has to be seen what stand the Azad-led association adopts. The cricketers’ agitation is bound to assume political overtones as Laloo Prasad and Azad are expected to pull strings to turn things their way.

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