June 6: President Shashank Manohars desire to have a clean Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was a significant factor in his launching a fierce counter-attack yesterday.
While Manohars stinging press release felled Lalit Kumar Modi, the suspended chairman and commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL), it landed a solid blow on Sharad Pawar, too.
That surprised some in the BCCI. Pawar, after all, had done his bit to ensure that Manohar succeeded him as president, in September 2008. Moreover, both had worked together to end Jagmohan Dalmiyas innings, in November 2005.
The Nagpur-based Manohars confidants (not that they are many in number), though, are not surprised. This afternoon, The Telegraph spoke to one of them.
Manohar wants a clean BCCI and isnt obliged to look after the interests of any individual or a group, his responsibility is to the institution.... The message conveyed yesterday was that Modi cant use Pawar as a shield and attack others in the BCCI, the confidant said.
He elaborated: Modi thought hell get away by giving Pawar a clean chit (on the City Corporation Ltd affair) and training his guns exclusively on Manohar and Chirayu Amin.... He probably assumed that because Pawars name had come up, the president wouldnt react, but he got it wrong.... Modi just doesnt know Manohar....
Amin is the IPLs interim chief.
With Manohar revealing that the failed bid for the Pune franchise had been in City Corps name and not that of its managing director, Aniruddha Deshpande, the Pawar familys stand went for a six.
The Pawars, who own over 16 per cent of City Corps shares, had all along maintained that they had nothing to do with any IPL bid and that Deshpande acted in his individual capacity.
In fact, also on record, as part of the documents submitted at the March 21 auction, is a City Corp board resolution empowering Deshpande, considered very close to Pawar, to bid on behalf of the company and to run the team, if successful.
A board resolution, claimed to have been passed days before the auction, which stated otherwise, doesnt figure among the documents placed before the IPLs governing council.
Deshpande did, however, give a letter saying that if the bid was successful, the shareholders might either remain the same or change. Nothing definite was mentioned.... That letter didnt state that the shareholders would change and, so, you dont have to read too much between the lines, a BCCI source pointed out.
When the BCCIs secretary, Narayanswamy Srinivasan, can be actively involved with the Chennai Super Kings, nothing stops Union minister Pawar or his family from being associated with a bid --- failed or otherwise.
But, yes, a declaration has to be made and the BCCIs sanction sought. Why? Because Pawar is at the helm of an affiliated unit, the Mumbai Cricket Association.
The issue, then, is of misleading the cricket fraternity in general and the public at large. Clearly, its not a small matter.
As the BCCI source put it, Pawar and his family should have acknowledged their stake in City Corp when the franchise controversy first surfaced, in April, and clarified that being minor shareholders, they had no role in any policy decision.... Their nothing to do line was poorly thought of and a seasoned politician like Pawar ought to have known better....
Today, there are murmurs even within the International Cricket Council (ICC), a body Pawar will get to head within a few weeks.
Because of the BCCIs influence, nobody has come out in the open, but there definitely is disquiet, which does Pawars image no good.
John Howard, one assumes, is following the IPL-related events rather closely. He seems to be fighting a losing cause, in his bid to succeed Pawar as the ICC vice-president, but the man blocking his attempt is himself in a spot of bother!