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Cricket caught in court play
3 umpires for board game

Calcutta, Sept. 22: The contrast couldn’t have been starker: Team India posting a rare overseas series win, in Zimbabwe, and the power-hungry within the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) cutting a sorry figure.

At the end of a dramatic day ' after 10.30 pm, in fact ' the two additional observers declared that the 76th AGM, which had been “adjourned sine die” by president Ranbir Singh Mahendra around 3.45 pm, would “continue” at 10 am tomorrow.

Both additional observers, Justice (retd) K.N. Singh and Justice (retd) M.M. Punchi, have held the country’s highest judicial office.

Had Justice (retd) Suhas Chandra Sen, the sole observer appointed yesterday, been around at the venue ' Taj Bengal ' they would have called for the AGM to “continue” late tonight itself.

The Sharad Pawar camp wanted just that, but Justice Sen had gone home.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the appointment of the additional observers will surely be challenged, either before a division bench of Calcutta High Court or even before the Supreme Court.

That should be done first thing in the morning.

Justice Singh and Justice Punchi arrived quicker than most expected. They flew in from New Delhi, with the Chandigarh-based Punchi taking two flights.

They came into the picture when Calcutta High Court upheld a Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) plea for modifying yesterday’s order on the appointment of Justice Sen.

As a move, it was smart and left Jagmohan Dalmiya rather embarrassed on home turf.

Dalmiya, who placed his group’s “point of view” before the additional observers, came away dissatisfied and went on record that he’d questioned their decision to “continue” with the AGM when it’s the BCCI secretary’s prerogative to “convene” it.

Under severe pressure to retain his position of pre-eminence, Dalmiya also raised other issues: that the observers can only come into play when it’s time for elections and that convention calls for an 11 am start.

Significantly, 18 (all professing loyalty to Pawar) of the 30 affiliated units were present when the additional observers heard Dalmiya. The latter’s group went unrepresented as they followed Mahendra’s sine die ruling.

It’s to be seen how many from the Dalmiya group turn up tomorrow ' there’s a question mark even over the supremo himself. Arun Jaitley, for one, has left.

For much of the day, the Dalmiya group insisted it had the numbers, but Pawar (thanks to help from Congressmen) seems to have made “enough inroads” to be comfortable.

The real test, though, must be on the floor of the house.

According to the Pawar camp, Mahendra announced the AGM is “adjourned sine die” after Dalmiya said so. Whatever, Inderjit Singh Bindra and Shashank Manohar objected, arguing that the meeting couldn’t be adjourned as it hadn’t even begun!

Their contention was that Mahendra hadn’t called the “house” to order and, apparently, even the attendance register wasn’t signed.

Mahendra, however, had something entirely different to offer: “If the AGM didn’t begin, what were they doing in the room' Moreover, I’d asked if there was a problem with the representation of any unit and nobody had objections.”

He added that he was forced to act owing to RCA president Lalit Modi’s “misbehaviour” and the refusal by somebody claiming to represent Bihar to leave the room.

Bihar doesn’t have a vote, while Jharkhand does.

Mahendra was critical of former president Raj Singh Dungarpur for “patting” Modi while he attacked him using unparliamentary language, but Raj Singh countered by asking: “Is it a crime to pat somebody' In any case, I was asking Lalit to cool down.”

A good many need to cool down.

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