BCCI chief N Srinivasan at Mumbai airport on Saturday. (PTI)
Board of Control for Cricket in India president N. Srinivasan’s interview to NDTV over the phone from Mumbai:
Question: Thanks very much for joining us. We heard you, just now, come out of the Mumbai airport and say… that despite all this pressure against you to resign, you are determined to stick it out.
Answer: Not just stick it out. This is orchestrated pressure, according to me. And I have been elected as the president of the BCCI; I have done nothing wrong throughout the period that I have been the president.
I don’t see any reason for the people to ask for the step-down…. The media baying for my blood, political parties saying I should resign and various other people also…. But I have done nothing wrong, so there is no question of my stepping down. And if somebody wants to replace me, let them get elected.
Q: Sir, you are saying that it’s the media and the political parties but the fact is that when your own son-in-law has been arrested by the police (and) charged with betting, isn’t that reason enough?
A: Listen. If he has been arrested, law has to take its course. I mean he has to ---- I mean whatever he has to defend and I am sure he will defend himself adequately --- but that is not a reason for me to step down, I am sorry.
This is what I said: I cannot be — you can use any amount of articulation — but I cannot be bulldozed. And I will not allow the press or others to railroad me. I have done nothing wrong. If I have done something wrong, that’s a different matter.
And again as far as Mr Gurunath is concerned, whatever steps and actions have to be taken, which will be taken in case of anybody else, the same will apply on him. There will be no discrimination or change.
Q: But were you aware at all that Gurunath was involved in betting?
A: I had no knowledge. Everybody knows I hardly visit the play; I hardly watch the game. Everybody knows. In fact I do not go to the CSK games. I hardly watch the T20.
Q: So you had no idea that your son-in-law was involved in betting?
A: No, I don’t confirm…. It is you (who) are saying that he was involved in betting…. All I can say is that I had no knowledge of anything, which also people will understand because I never went to the games.
Q: Sir, the reason why people are saying that you should resign — you say that you have not done anything wrong personally —but the fact is that for a probe to take place in all fairness and all transparency against Gurunath Meiyappan, your own son-in-law, who is a person who is functionary of a team which your company heads, the only way that can happen is if you step aside because here is a direct conflict of interest. You are the BCCI president. How can the BCCI probe a team which is headed by its own president and whose own son-in-law is implicated?
A: You can, you know, you can say as much as you want. The fact is, the probe will be carried out if whatever has, if whatever steps have to be taken will be taken up objectively… that you need not be worried about. But at the same time, I repeat again, I am not going to let this kind of reasoning to push me out of BCCI. I mean there are a lot of western interests who don’t want me. Possibly I am too straight. And then I follow the rules. I don’t give in to pressure. So it may be convenient for some people to not have me there but I do not want, you know, I do not want to keep repeating myself.
Q: Who are these people? Who are these western interests you refer to again and again?
A: Everybody knows. I don’t have to spill it out. Okay, I have to go.
Q: Sir, the last question: what happens to the Chennai Super Kings? Isn’t its position now under a serious question mark given that Gurunath, who’s being associated with this team at various levels, has now been arrested for betting? Doesn’t that raise some serious question mark over the future of Chennai Super Kings under your own anti-corruption laws?
A: Whatever steps that have been taken — you know, you cannot, you can’t get words out of my mouth now for which you know the questions that have been posed, the answers have been given, the media has already tried all of us and media has come to a conclusion… and really gone overboard. I am not going to get into all this arguments with you, whatever is necessary to be done will be done fairly. But I want to say while I am on air (that) really media has gone overboard against me.
Q: Sir, will you order a probe against Gurunath Meiyappan and these allegations that have surfaced with the same alacrity (with) which you ordered (the probe) against Sreesanth and the other players of the Rajasthan Royals?
A: You can be sure BCCI will act with the same alacrity. You need not be concerned about that. But what I am saying is the media should have, could have, been a little fairer. Actually, not a little fairer (but) fair to us.
Q: Fair enough. I can see that there may have been very strong reporting but there are sections of your own board who have been in touch with us who are saying that they are trying to build up enough opinion to ask you to step down, that your staying on is bringing the board into disrepute. What would you say to them?
A: I don’t agree with them. But if they have… they should speak up, they can. Like I said, you know, a lot of BCCI members have sent me messages of support and how they are with me. So I don’t believe what you are saying and in any case my quitting is not there. Thank you.
Q: Has the image of the board been tarnished, sir? Last question, sir, has the image of the IPL been tarnished?
A: I am sorry at this — I will now have to repeat myself. I don’t think so. It is your view. OK, thanks.
Q: OK, do you think the image of the IPL has been tarnished in all of this? At least would you concede that?
(The line is lost)