The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dalmiya at ease, Shah is ‘marked’

Calcutta: The build-up to the last AGM of the Board, in Chennai, had seen Jagmohan Dalmiya work overtime to topple A.C.Muthiah from the president’s chair.

Dalmiya won with a comfortable 17-13 margin and, even if an ambush is being plotted, should come through unscathed in the AGM being held held here Thursday-Friday.

In any case, this time, much of Dalmiya’s energy is going towards trying to resolve a ticklish (intra-group) problem: Who should be ‘official’ candidate for the secretaryship'

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the contenders are joint-secretary Jyoti Bajpai and finance committee chairman S.K.Nair.

Though incumbent Niranjan Shah hasn’t put a foot wrong — except asking the cricketers to sign the Player Terms when they were struggling to save the Lord’s Test — he still remains someone who got through (last year) on a Muthiah-ticket.

Bluntly put, the Dalmiya-led group continues to see Shah as an outsider and he simply can’t be accommodated. Moreover, given the power-driven equations within the Board, being politically correct matters immensely.

While Muthiah himself was defeated in Chennai, Shah upset the Dalmiya group’s Jaywant Lele 16-15 — thanks, of course, to the then president’s casting vote. A year on, therefore, Shah is very much a ‘marked’ man.

Actually, had Bajpai been fielded instead of Lele, there’s a good chance he would today have been the secretary. Bajpai, after all, would have scored on the acceptability-front.

Tactically, keeping faith in Lele was a blunder.

Having been joint-secretary for five years, the Dalmiya group should unanimously be projecting Bajpai. However, Dalmiya is understood to have made “some commitment” to Nair, a former treasurer, and so is “caught between loyalists.”

While it’s unlikely a (group) decision will be taken much before the AGM gets underway, a compromise could see Nair as the ‘official’ nominee with Bajpai being “persuaded” to continue as joint-secretary for one year more.

In such an eventuality, Bajpai will be the Dalmiya group’s candidate to succeed Kishore Rungta as treasurer in 2003.

Significantly, while the Board’s constitution specifies the upper-limit for the president (three years), secretary (five years) and treasurer (five years), it is silent on the joint-secretary.

Bajpai, then, won’t be breaching any provision if he does agree to the “arrangement” being talked about.

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