The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Unenviable task ahead of Dalmiya
- Karnataka to place Patel’s medical update before president; Shetty seems ahead in race for joint secretary
Much of the focus is on hospitalised Brijesh Patel

Calcutta: Jagmohan Dalmiya, who begins his third and last year as Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president on Saturday, has an unenviable job: He must please all within his group, but the goodies to be handed out at this weekend’s AGM are almost non-existent.

Though there are no challengers for either the secretary or treasurer’s post, quite a few have shown interest in the joint secretary’s chair. Karnataka’s Brijesh Patel, C.K. Khanna of Delhi, Bengal’s Goutam Das Gupta… Adding spice, of course, has been Professor Ratnakar Shetty’s candidature.

While Mumbai hasn’t been supporting Dalmiya and, so, doesn’t find a place in his group, Prof. Shetty has always been highly regarded by the president. Indeed, many of The Telegraph’s sources see him as Dalmiya’s candidate and the president would back him if Brijesh — currently recuperating from a bypass — insisted on a face-off.

Technically, that’s possible, but such a scenario remains pretty unlikely. Brijesh, after all, is still in the ICCU at the Narayana Hrudalaya in Bangalore and cannot ‘campaign’ in person. It seems he will have to wait.

[According to confidant Sudhakar Rao, Brijesh will be moved out of the ICCU on Friday. “That was to have been done today (Thursday), but the doctors decided to wait for 24 hours… Brijesh is recovering very well and should be discharged on Monday/Tuesday,” he informed.]

Assuming that the Brijesh factor has been ‘eliminated’ and with Khanna already congratulating Prof. Shetty, Dalmiya will effectively have to ‘choose’ between long-serving lieutenant Das Gupta (a former India manager, by the way) and the experienced Mumbai administrator.

Late on Thursday, there were indications that Prof. Shetty (also a former India manager) could get the all-important nod. Before that, however, Dalmiya will have to convince his group that the Mumbaikar be regarded as one of its own and, looking ahead, it won’t be a bad idea to work in harmony with Mumbai boss Sharad Pawar.

Pawar, one understands, will attend the AGM only if Prof. Shetty encounters rough weather on arrival here (Friday).

Given his mood in the lead-up, Das Gupta may not be too disappointed if the script doesn’t unfold his way. Speaking exclusively, he said: “I’ll respect the decision of our group and Mr Dalmiya’s… I’m definitely not going to fall out of line.”

The BCCI has to have a new joint secretary as Jyoti Bajpai is shifting to the treasurer’s seat, being vacated by Kishore Rungta. S.K.Nair should continue unopposed as secretary, unless Niranjan Shah (who does have backers) decides to avenge his 2002 defeat.

Meanwhile, Dalmiya will have to take another tough decision — whether to retain Brijesh as chief selector or ask Karnataka to nominate somebody else.

“Look, in the doctors’ opinion, Brijesh will be able to resume activities from next Wednesday… Obviously, the BCCI president will be informed and, then, we will wait for his response,” Karnataka supremo K.M. Ram Prasad maintained, when contacted in Bangalore.

Ram Prasad is expected to have a one-to-one with Dalmiya before the AGM gets underway.

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