Of the four, Sourav alone comes with no baggage

GC appoints its own men in the working group

Sourav Ganguly

Calcutta: Twentysix months ago, when scandals shook the IPL, not one from among Rajeev Shukla, Anurag Thakur and Anirudh Chaudhry was proactive in taking a firm stand on correcting everything that had gone wrong.

The focus then was on the Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals. Well, the spotlight hasn't left the two franchises.

All three Board officials are in the curiously named working group, set up by the IPL's governing council, on Monday afternoon.

The pressure, therefore, is on the working group's fourth member - former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who'd been invited to depose both before the Justice Mukul Mudgal panel and the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha committee.

Why pressure?

For the simple reason that Sourav, who is also a member of the Board's cricket advisory committee, doesn't come with any baggage and is expected to say what needs to be highlighted.

When the media caught up with Sourav, at the Eden, he said he'd heard of his appointment "on the TV." Later, in a chat with The Telegraph, he clarified that he'd been "consulted."

Basically, that the news didn't stump him.

Of the other three, Shukla (IPL governing council chairman) and Thakur, the Board secretary, are politicians by profession, while Chaudhry (the Board treasurer) is from one of the many political families in Haryana.

Strangely, all four members of the working group are on the IPL's governing council - Shukla and Sourav are full-fledged members, while the other two are there in an ex-officio capacity.

What, then, was the need for this working group if everything is to be settled internally?

Sourav's credentials are well known, not so those of the other three.

Shukla, a member of the Rajya Sabha, has a reputation of trying to please just about everybody. He is everybody's friend.

Generally, that is.

Lok Sabha member Thakur had no qualms working under Narayanswami Srinivasan when he was the Board president. Publicly, though, he's been taking an anti-Srinivasan line.

But what would happen behind closed doors?

Back in May 2013, the buzz was that Thakur would do a Sanjay Jagdale and Ajay Shirke. In other words, resign as an office-bearer (he was then the joint secretary) of the Board.

Thakur didn't.

As for Chaudhry, he owes his rise in the Board to Srinivasan. The Supreme Court stopped the latter from seeking a second term as the Board president, earlier this year, but he continues as the International Cricket Council chairman.

The irony is that Chaudhry's father, Ranbir Singh Mahendra, was ousted as the Board president (in 2005) by a group which included Srinivasan. It was headed by Sharad Pawar.

So, who is running the Board? Few are convinced that Jagmohan Dalmiya, the Board president, is calling the shots.

Shirke, a former treasurer of the Board, was supposed to be in the working group. That, indeed, was the 'hot' news late on Sunday.

Overnight, Shirke got left out.

Did Srinivasan, who isn't on the best of terms with the Maharashtra Cricket Association president, have some role to play?

Srinivasan is a smart operator.

There was talk, too, that Jyotiraditya Scindia would be in the working group, but he's not there either.

Shirke and Scindia are known not to compromise with corruption of any kind.

They hold strong views.

By the way, Scindia (a former Union minister and son of the late Madhavrao) is the only Board member with stature to have ticked off Sundar Raman, the IPL's controversial COO.

The working group would submit its report, on the best way out of the present mess after the Justice Lodha committee's report, within six weeks.

Usha Nath Banerjee, back as the Board's legal adviser, is to "assist" Shukla and Co.

Once the IPL's governing council has studied the report, it would go to the Board's working committee. From there, expect it to be placed before the general body.

Probably at the AGM, which is supposed to be held by the end of September.

Till then, prepare for more games.


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