Monday, 30th October 2017

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Taking a cue from Diana, Amitabh roasts Khanna

Over what? Who will give away the IPL trophy! Such things count in India, even more so among the officials of the BCCI

By Lokendra Pratap Sahi in Calcutta
  • Published 19.05.19, 3:02 AM
  • Updated 19.05.19, 3:02 AM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
Amitabh Choudhary Telegraph picture

While the rest of the Boards are focused exclusively on the World Cup, which is just days away, there’s yet another war within the 90-year-old Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Naturally, the rest of the cricket fraternity must be laughing.

Last Sunday’s IPL XII final had been dramatic, but there was much drama off the field too, starring the BCCI’s acting president CK Khanna and Diana Edulji, a senior member of the Committee of Administrators.

Over what?

Who will give away the IPL trophy! Such things count in India, even more so among the officials of the BCCI.

A motivated leak, suspected to be the handiwork of men who have clashed with Diana on a number of issues, including the handling of allegations of sexual harassment against BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, portrayed her in poor light.

Diana was compelled to publicly clarify her position and, in doing so, left Khanna with little room to hide.

Thanks to the leak, it’s actually the BCCI which lost more face.

Then, on Saturday evening, The Telegraph was able to access a no-holds-barred email from acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary to Khanna.

Given the contents of the email, Khanna would be tempted to take refuge in the Himalayas. For the time being, at least.

More on Amitabh’s email later, but first...

It wasn’t ages ago that the BCCI was regarded with respect and, by some, with fear. The late Jagmohan Dalmiya had ensured it.

That changed on January 2, 2017, when a Supreme Court Bench headed by the then CJI, Tirath Singh Thakur, removed elected president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke.

Besides, the Supreme Court decided to appoint Administrators, headed by Vinod Rai, to “ensure” the implementation of the reforms put together by the Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha Committee and to “supervise” the administration of the BCCI.

A sweeping brief, to put it mildly.

The Justice Lodha Committee’s recommendations formed the basis of the stunning order of the Supreme Court on July 18, 2016.

Clearly, with the BCCI resisting any change, or any substantive change in status quo, the Bench headed by CJI Thakur felt it necessary to appoint Administrators.

So, if the removal of the president and secretary wasn’t bad enough, the BCCI suffered further humiliation with the Administrators taking centre stage.

The mess continues.

By the end of January 2017, the BCCI had completely lost its position of pre-eminence in the International Cricket Council. The process had begun some years earlier.

After the events of the past week, more in the larger cricket fraternity would have begun ridiculing the BCCI.

In fact, the appointment of so-called professionals to streamline the functioning of the BCCI has only made just about everybody yearn for the good old days when amateurs called the shots.

The BCCI, after all, has a CEO who had to face an inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment and underwent “some form of gender sensitivity counselling/training!”

Chief Administrator Rai may be able to throw light on the number of high-profile organisations who would happily continue to employ a CEO who has had to undergo “some form of gender sensitivity counselling/training.”

Now, to Amitabh’s email addressed to Khanna... Some gems are being listed.

  • The last elections to the BCCI were in March 2015. Four office-bearers were elected and you were NOT one of them...
  • As fate would have it... you came to occupy the seat meant for titans like Grant Govan, Sir Sikander Hayat Khan... NKP Salve, Raj Singh Dungarpur, Jagmohan Dalmiya, Sharad Pawar... Each one of these giants commanded awe and respect...
  • One had hoped that at least the circumstances of your elevation and positions and responsibilities of the office, which these hitherto geniuses had occupied, would help you rise above the most undistinguished stretch that you have had so far...
  • You have not missed a single opportunity to extract the pelf and privilege which goes with the office of the president...
  • And what have you done since fate ensconced you there apart from collecting passes from all and sundry, extending New Year’s-Christmas-Diwali greetings and not missing a single opportunity for getting photographed, least realising how much damage it has brought to the BCCI pride and reputation...
  • I don’t remember a single word either having been uttered by you in the meetings you considered important enough to attend or an email or other communication drawing a blank on the trying subjects of the Justice Lodha reforms... the issue of sexual harassment or, for that matter, even the recent imbroglio on the course of action under FEMA...
  • One wonders what will come next.

Indeed, what next?

Postscript: In March, Khanna had breached protocol by allowing the Delhi body’s president, Rajat Sharma, to present the ODI trophy to Australia. The presentation was to have been made by him.