The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Game of glorious uncertainties
- Sharad Pawar keeps mum on contesting BCCI post, court order shadow on holding of election
Will he, won’t he be able to continue his control'

Calcutta, Sept. 21: An announcement hasn’t been made, but it’s almost certain that Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar will have another go at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) presidency.

The two-day AGM, featuring the 30 affiliated units, begins here tomorrow.

Pawar, who lost to Ranbir Singh Mahendra (a Congress MLA in Haryana) because of Jagmohan Dalmiya’s casting vote last year, has played his cards much better this time round.

More important, Pawar may actually be better placed in mobilising votes of states where the Congress is in power or where the units are headed by Congressmen. In fact, he met Sonia Gandhi before boarding the first evening flight from New Delhi to Calcutta.

In effect, the Congress holds the key.

Incidentally, news of that interaction seemed to unsettle the Dalmiya group and dozens of calls were quickly made across the country. Dalmiya, though, remains confident.

“We have the numbers but, then, there’s somebody up there... baki uparwala hi jane,” he said with an uncharacteristic philosophical touch.

Pawar arrived not just with trusted lieutenant Praful Patel, but former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah as well. If Pawar contests, he could be nominated by J&K.

Former Union minister Arun Jaitley and Congress MP Rajeev Shukla, both of whom are with Dalmiya, were on the same aircraft. It’s unclear whether a compromise formula emerged during the nearly two-hour flight.

Owing to technical reasons, Pawar (who heads the Mumbai Cricket Association) has to come through from North. Last year, he’d been Punjab’s candidate.

Asked whether the association he heads would nominate Pawar, Abdullah told The Telegraph: “But he hasn’t made up his mind. Personally, I’m for unity and everybody working together for the betterment of Indian cricket. That’s how it should be.”

Will he, won’t he be the challenger again'

Pawar merely said, “I’m here to attend the AGM”, and declined to talk with the media '“I haven’t come for press conferences.”

Indeed, according to staunch loyalist Raj Singh Dungarpur, Pawar “hasn’t come to play cards” either. “He’s going to fight, please take it from me,” Raj Singh insisted.

The AGM, however, can’t start before 12.30 pm as Madras High Court will give its order on a civil suit by then. Once again, it’s the Netaji Cricket Club which has taken the legal route ' calling for a neutral entity to chair the AGM.

For a change, the Dalmiya group also moved court with Kalighat Club obtaining a Calcutta High Court order whereby Justice (retd) Suhas Chandra Sen is going to be the observer for the elections.

Raj Singh called it a “masterstroke” from Dalmiya. Yet, he added that no previous masterstrokes had been from the middle of the bat!

Be it the legal route taken by the Chennai club or the one here, it isn’t funny. We can expect appeals in both courts.

If Pawar contests, Niranjan Shah will surely be his candidate for secretary. As S.K. Nair’s term is ending, the Dalmiya group has chosen to elevate Goutam Das Gupta.

It’s going to nominate Brijesh Patel as joint secretary, while Jyoti Bajpai will continue as treasurer. Shashank Manohar is expected to be a Pawar candidate for one of those posts.

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