Monday, 30th October 2017

E- paper

#MeToo strikes the BCCI, Johri merely asked for an explanation

Unnamed woman accuses CEO of grave misconduct in previous job

By Lokendra Pratap Sahi in Calcutta
  • Published 14.10.18, 3:00 AM
  • Updated 14.10.18, 5:57 AM
  • 2 mins read
Rahul Johri Agencies

Rahul Johri, CEO of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the “eyes and ears” of Vinod Rai, who heads the two-member Committee of Administrators (CoA) appointed by the Supreme Court, has merely been asked for an “explanation” with regard to a damning #MeToo post by an unnamed lady on somebody else’s Twitter handle.

Johri has to reply “within a week” from Saturday. “Future course of action will be considered on receipt of his explanation,” is the CoA’s position.

The unnamed lady and Johri had been colleagues at a point in time and she was violated during the course of what has been described as an “interview” at his “Gurgaon residence.”

Specifically, the unnamed lady has alleged Johri (“boring” company, by the way) engaged in an act similar to what a former President of the USA had been accused of doing to a White House intern.

If the sequence of events mentioned by the unnamed lady is true, then that act was, in Johri’s words, the “last part” of her “interview” with him.

Prominent members of the Board as also men who have held key positions in the past have been aghast at Rai and colleague Diana Edulji not suspending Johri, the first-ever CEO of the 89-year-old organisation.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) meets in Singapore between October 16-20 and Johri is supposed to represent the Board at the chief executives’ meeting.

Would that not be odd?

Wonder how Indra Nooyi, the ICC’s first independent female director, will react to Johri’s presence...

Paceman Mohammed Shami’s case wasn’t exactly the same, but estranged wife Hasin Jahan had (in March) levelled grave charges. First on a social media platform and, then, via interactions with the Media.

The CoA suspended Shami’s central contract and ordered an inquiry by the Board’s Anti-Corruption & Security Unit. The 28-year-old’s contract was restored only after the all-clear.

While Shami’s wife made no attempt to hide her identity, the Johri-related allegation got tweeted late on Friday by @PedestrianPoet on behalf of the unnamed lady.

The charge relates to Johri’s previous employment, with Discovery Networks.

Delighted with the turn of events would be the three sidelined office-bearers of the Board — acting president Chandra Kishore Khanna, Amitabh Choudhary (acting secretary) and treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry.

On the pretext of professionalism, after all, the CoA has given massive powers to Johri, especially marginalising Choudhary.

This Reporter spoke to two of the three office-bearers and both made the same point: “We will, for now, wait and watch.”

“Watch” another damaging chapter in the BCCI’s history unfold, that is.

Johri has been the Board’s CEO from April 2016. According to well-placed sources of The Telegraph, he wasn’t in the first shortlist, prepared by a head-hunting firm.

“Somebody with plenty of influence in the Board and, obviously, outside probably swung it for Johri. There had been whispers about a possible back-door entry then as well,” one of the well-placed sources said.

Johri’s appointment had been made by outgoing Board president Shashank Manohar, who has been the ICC’s chairman since then.

Clearly, under pressure from different quarters, the CoA decided to seek an explanation from Johri some 18 hours after the unnamed lady’s post went viral.

Rai, in particular, keeps lecturing the world on transparency but the Board’s PR agency didn’t send out a Media release. Instead, it sent a WhatsApp to a chosen few.

Why select publications only? The CoA and the PR agency must explain.

The Media release, for the record, was emailed three hours after the WhatsApp. There wasn’t anything new.

Transparency? Professionalism in the BCCI? Forget it.