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MCA probe starts and ends with Kale
- Tainted player appears before state body, pleads innocence

Calcutta, Nov. 22: The Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) ‘scored’ by announcing an inquiry within hours of top batsman Abhijit Kale becoming the lead item on every news bulletin, Thursday, but it isn’t aiming to make another point.

“Having gone public, we couldn’t backtrack even though the Board responded a day later… That wouldn’t have been well received by our members and the Media in these parts… However, now that Kale has been heard (this evening) by our three-member panel, we don’t want to expand our probe,” MCA joint secretary Janardan Umaji Mitkar told The Telegraph.

It’s a sensible decision.

Speaking from Aurangabad, where he is based, Mitkar added: “Specifically, then, we have no desire to call the two selectors (Pranab Roy and Kiran More)… In fact, as I’ve said, we went ahead with our inquiry only because the probe was announced before the Board acted…”

[According to an agency report from Pune, where the MCA is headquartered, Kale claimed “total innocence” after appearing before the panel investigating the cash-for-selection offer. “I have nothing to do with the allegations and am seeking legal opinion,” he emphasised.

Later, one of the members on the probe panel, umpire T.K. Handu, commented: “Kale gave his version, saying he was totally innocent and that he had nothing to do with the allegations.”]

Accused of offering a Rs 10 lakh inducement to each of the two selectors, for facilitating a Team India comeback, the 30-year-old Kale is currently serving a Board-authored suspension. His solitary India appearance, by the way, was during the Dhaka tri-series in April.

Mitkar, who is reaching Pune tomorrow, informed that the panel’s report will be ready by the evening. It will be placed before the MCA’s managing committee, on Monday, prior to being forwarded to Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya.

Asked whether the managing committee’s approval was taken before deciding on the inquiry, Mitkar replied: “Well, yes… We did have a discussion… In any case, the joint secretaries are empowered to form a panel in extraordinary circumstances… Apne ghar mein kya hua, usko to dekhna hi tha…”

Interestingly, the MCA office-bearers and its managing committee have interim status — a fall out of the controversy-ridden elections some months ago.

The Board, it may be recalled, has already appointed a commissioner (senior administrator and Bar Council of India chairman D.V. Subba Rao). Once his work is over — there’s a 15-day deadline, the countdown having begun yesterday — the Board’s disciplinary committee will come into the picture.

For the next fortnight (at least), Rao will be the cynosure.

Meanwhile, an emergent working committee meeting of the BCCI has been called on November 30, in New Delhi. The composition of the disciplinary committee — actually, who are the two who will sit alongside the president — is set to be finalised there.

Clearly, Dalmiya doesn’t wish to be seen as acting unilaterally on a scandal without precedent. Also, given that the MCA has always been inimical towards him, he doesn’t want to hand it any stick whatsoever.

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