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It’s not exactly all quiet before AGM
- Das Gupta a prime contender to succeed Nair as BCCI secretary

Calcutta: Unlike last year, when battlelines were drawn much before the AGM, nothing appears to be happening publicly in the lead-up to the 2005 session of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

This calm, though, is deceptive.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, there actually is “significant movement” behind the scenes.

Specifically, one learns Union minister Sharad Pawar has sought an “assurance” from the Jagmohan Dalmiya group that he/his candidate will be supported for the presidency next year.

If that commitment is made, then the forthcoming AGM (September 22-23, in Calcutta) is going to be sans fireworks.

Dalmiya’s casting vote, it may be recalled, led to Pawar’s defeat (and Haryana MLA Ranbir Singh Mahendra’s win) last year.

It couldn’t be confirmed, but it seems no assurance had been given till late on Saturday.

Assuming he gets himself re-elected less than a fortnight from now, Mahendra can keep his hat in the ring next year as well.

In the 2006 AGM, however, nothing will bar somebody from West (next in line for the presidency) to challenge him.

[East’s Dalmiya, for example, toppled Dr A.C.Muthiah (South) when the latter sought a third year, in 2001.]

If someone wishes to take on Mahendra this year, though, he must be a candidate from North itself.

As it’s North’s turn for the top job, Pawar ' who heads the Mumbai Cricket Association ' had got himself nominated from Punjab.

Mahendra, of course, is confident of retaining office ' or else, he wouldn’t have grandly announced Team India’s performance in Sri Lanka and the ongoing tour of Zimbabwe would be “thoroughly reviewed” over five days from September 25.

Whatever the level of confidence, there’s the issue of propriety and Mahendra ' whose tenure has, to say the least, been unspectacular ' should limit his utterances to everything that’s to be done till September 22.

While the success or otherwise of the quiet ‘dialogue’ between Dalmiya and Pawar is going to determine whether elections will be held yet again, there’s already much interest on who succeeds S.K. Nair as secretary.

Of the key office-bearers, his innings alone has to end in Calcutta.

Nair’s predecessor’s could ' subject to being re-elected annually ' continue for five years. After an amendment 12 months ago, three years is the maximum.

Joint secretary Goutam Das Gupta is a prime contender. Brijesh Patel’s name is also doing the rounds. In the picture, too, is former joint secretary Prof. Ratnakar Shetty.

Prof. Shetty fought (and lost to Das Gupta) as a Pawar candidate last year, but is on excellent terms with not just Dalmiya, but others in the ruling group.

That’s not insignificant.

A compromise between Pawar and Dalmiya could, therefore, see him as the next secretary. Otherwise, most are probably going to be looking towards Das Gupta.

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