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Modi declares, Shah pads up

New Delhi, May 30: Narendra Modi today resigned as Gujarat Cricket Association chief after helming the body since 2009.

State BJP sources said Modi’s aide Amit Shah, vice-president of the association, would “in all likelihood” replace him in mid-June.

Narhari Amin, ex-president of the association and a former Congressman who has joined the BJP, said never before had a Prime Minister headed a sports body even briefly.

Cricket, though, has become a favourite hunting ground with politicians. When the BJP sought to consolidate its organisational strength in Gujarat, part of its strategy was to wrest from the Congress the control of sports bodies, especially relating to cricket and chess.

These associations were a key source of patronage, like Gujarat’s cooperatives. Shah pulled it off through a long-drawn operation.

Amin claimed Modi had set a “great example” and contrasted this with senior NCP leader Sharad Pawar continuing as head of national cricket body BCCI well after his induction into the Manmohan Singh cabinet.

Modi’s finance and defence minister, Arun Jaitley, had snapped his BCCI ties and quit as head of the Delhi and District Cricket Association in the beginning of 2014.

Modi has invited the BJP’s 10 general secretaries for tea tomorrow at his Race Course residence, into which he moved today. Three of them — Ananth Kumar, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Dharmendra Pradhan — are ministers.

The others are Shah, J.P. Nadda, Tapir Gao, Varun Gandhi, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, P. Murlidhar Rao and Ram Lal. Nadda and Shah are candidates for BJP president.