Calcutta: Till late on Tuesday, Union minister Sharad Pawar hadn’t exactly revealed his AGM-cards, but the dominant Jagmohan Dalmiya group has begun preparing for another Board election.
According to The Telegraph’s sources, those currently in power have declined to give an “assurance” that they will back Pawar in 2006 when, technically, West can field a candidate for the presidency.
North’s turn began last year and Haryana’s Ranbir Singh Mahendra won on Dalmiya’s casting vote. It’s going to continue till the 2006 AGM (at least).
Assuming Mahendra gets re-elected here on Thursday, he will be eligible to seek a one-year extension in 12 months time. However, the rules won’t disallow a challenger from West.
If Pawar chooses to contest this year, too, he must again be nominated by one of the affiliates from North.
The Mumbai Cricket Association chief came through Punjab in 2004 and, this year, there’s speculation he could be nominated by Jammu & Kashmir.
“We haven’t yet received a request from Mr Pawar, but if he does seek help, our administrative committee is going to take a decision,” remarked Punjab Cricket Association chief Inderjit Singh Bindra.
The savvy Bindra, who is a former Board president, arrived in the city (from New Delhi) late in the evening. Another Pawar backer (and a former Board president as well), Raj Singh Dungarpur, has also landed.
Ironically, not many years ago, both were Dalmiya’s closest allies and his group saw Mahendra as an outsider!
But, then, Board politics is such that it doesn’t take long for a friend to turn foe and vice-versa.
On record, Pawar has said he will wait for the “court verdict” on the disputes concerning affiliates like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
More than that, he won’t risk it ' despite appearing keen ' unless he’s satisfied with his “own assessment.”
According to a source close to Pawar, he’s not going to rely “only” on the assessment made by loyalists.
After all, it backfired last year.
Not that a major political player like Pawar has anything to gain even if he does become the Board president.
Significantly, unlike last year when the pitch was high, Pawar’s ‘campaign’ this time has been Dalmiya-like.
Because next to nothing has been revealed, Dalmiya has been made to work overtime in ensuring his flanks are covered.
He certainly is confident.
Returning to the disputes, Rajasthan is pro-Pawar, while the other two affiliates are in Dalmiya’s bag.
As of now, though, it’s unlikely that the courts will give a ruling before the AGM ' incidentally, being held here for the fourth year in succession.
Like the permanent Test centres, Calcutta is on its way to becoming a permanent centre for AGMs.
Intriguingly, but not surprisingly, the nuisance-creating Chennai-based Netaji Cricket Club has again gone to court and sought the appointment of an “independent authority” to conduct the AGM.
That, of course, has been challenged by the Board. One hopes last year’s unpleasantness is avoided.
While Mahendra may remain president, secretary S.K. Nair’s three-year term is over.
If there’s an election, those in power could field Brijesh Patel. Otherwise, it seems joint-secretary Goutam Das Gupta is going to be elevated.
The Pawar group, one understands, could again back Niranjan Shah.
If Das Gupta is to move up, then a new joint-secretary will have to be identified by those currently calling the shots.
Unless there’s an election and an upset, Jyoti Bajpai should continue as the Board treasurer.