The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dalmiya camp hurdle for Pawar

London, Sept. 25: Union minister Sharad Pawar's bid for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) presidency may run into rough weather as the powerful Jagmohan Dalmiya group doesn't seem keen on endorsing his candidature.

According to The Telegraph's sources, the outgoing president's supporters ' their number, of course, is sizeable ' are reportedly upset over two developments.

First, their impression of an indirect 'threat' from the Pawar camp that unless Dalmiya 'falls in line' an effort will be made to remove him from the patron-in-chief's post, which is formally going to be his after the September 29-30 AGM in Calcutta.

Second, Pawar appears to have talked about 'improving' the image of the BCCI, suggesting that the prized body has suffered in the three years under Dalmiya.

Dalmiya, it seems, has taken that slight rather badly and trusted lieutenants have been asked to 'respond suitably'. In any case, nobody has forgotten Pawar backed A.C. Muthiah against Dalmiya in 2001.

Additionally, a source of 'irritation' is that the Dalmiya group remains convinced a TV channel involved in the telecast rights imbroglio is sympathetic towards Pawar and out to create 'mischief'.

Given that former Union minister Arun Jaitley has let it be known he won't offer himself as a candidate ' to avoid a Congress versus BJP face-off outside Parliament ' the contest could be between Pawar and Ranbir Singh Mahendra, a BCCI vice-president.

Just in case Mahendra (son of Bansi Lal) eventually 'succumbs' to pressure from the Congress, Dalmiya confidant Kamal Morarka will take on Pawar.

It's not insignificant that Morarka, a one-time Union minister, has announced he is going to contest if an 'outsider' gets nominated from north.

Obviously, Morarka had Pawar in mind. Pawar heads the Mumbai Cricket Association and, so, isn't a north man. However, nothing prevents a BCCI unit (from north) from proposing him for the presidency.

After all, it's north's turn to provide the president.

While Pawar is banking on the Congress' support, Dalmiya is also understood to have opened a 'line of communication' with the party headed by Sonia Gandhi.

Besides contacts in the Congress, Dalmiya is on good terms with the Marxists, who are backing the Manmohan Singh government (of which Pawar is a part) from outside.

Incidentally, it wasn't many years ago that Dalmiya and Mahendra didn't see eye-to-eye. More recently, though, Mahendra made peace and may benefit big.

As in politics, there aren't any permanent foes within the BCCI.

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