Budding cricketers in Bihar celebrate after the state was given full membership by the BCCI, in Patna on Monday. (PTI)
Bihar has got in-principle clearance to field teams in the Ranji Trophy and other tournaments, but when it will actually be able to do so depends on how soon the various cricket associations of the state settle their legal disputes.
It is still not clear which association in Bihar will be authorised to administer cricket in the state. Apart from the Bihar Cricket Association (BCA), the two other bodies staking claim to run the sport in the state are the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) and the Association of Bihar Cricket (ABC).
As per the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)'s amended constitution which was uploaded on its website on Saturday, each state shall be represented by a state association duly recognised by the BCCI.
All such associations will be full members. No state shall have more than one full member at any given point of time. Bihar has been made a full member of the BCCI after nearly 16 years.
The BCA is the front-runner as the association was earlier granted associate membership. BCA secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad Singh said: "We are the real cricket body recognised by BCCI. As associate member we have conducted the Hayman Trophy, which is recognised by the BCCI, and our trial of players for other leagues is going on."
However, the Cricket Association of Bihar led by Aditya Verma, who is the original petitioner in the IPL spot fixing case, has also staked its claim. CAB working president and former MLA Prem Ranjan Patel said: "As we have approached the Supreme Court-appointed R.M. Lodha Committee demanding affiliation of the CAB as the original cricket association in Bihar, BCA has no right to call itself the official cricket body in Bihar."
The Committee of Administrators of the BCCI, while granting full membership to Bihar, is learnt to have asked the different cricket bodies to settle their court cases before the full membership status can be activated.
It's not just a inter-association battle dogging the state. The BCA's office-bearers are themselves locked in court cases.
Sources said that Ajay Sharma, former BCA secretary, has filed a court case against the procedure followed for the BCA election conducted in 2015. In the election, finance minister Abdul Bari Siddiqui was elected president while Ravi Shankar Prasad Singh won the post of secretary. The Supreme Court though dismissed the plea of Sharma on the ground that the BCA election was conducted under the supervision of the apex court. But it allowed Sharma to file an appeal in a lower court, which he has, alleging malpractices in the election process. The BCA election was held in September 2015 under the supervision of retired Patna High Court judge Dharampal Sinha who had been appointed by the top court to conduct the polls.
Sources said the BCA is also facing a case of financial mismanagement of Rs 50 lakh which the BCCI had given to the association in 2009 for development of cricketing infrastructure in Bihar.
The grant of full membership though has given a ray of hope to budding cricketers and those associated with the game in Bihar. Amikar Dhayal, who runs a cricket academy in Patna and was part of the Bihar Ranji team in the late eighties, said: "In the larger interest of cricket lovers and players of state, no association should create confusion for BCCI and the Lodha Committee." Echoing the views of Dhayal, Satyavir Singh, a budding cricketer, said: "Our primary concern is that Bihar players should get the opportunity to play cricket. Because Bihar didn't have any official cricket body, players from the state were forced to move out to play in BCCI tournaments."
Bihar's cricketing woes started soon after the bifurcation of the state in November 2000. Former chief minister Lalu Prasad formed BCA in Patna in 2001, while the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) was created the same year. But to the dismay of BCA, then BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya recognised JSCA and withdrew BCA's affiliation with BCCI.
Amitabh Choudhary, who was then JSCA president, was given the power to change the name of BCA to JSCA. The Jharkhand association was given affiliation by BCCI as in undivided Bihar, BCA's headquarters was located in Jamshedpur.
The BCCI refused to give affiliation to any cricket body in Bihar as separate unrecognised associations were fighting among themselves. Both the BCA as well as the CAB continued to claim each was the "real association".