Diana Edulji, insulted ‘Equal Member’ of the CoA, hits back at Vinod Rai with vengeance

Edulji asserts Vinod Rai can’t take unilateral decisions and doesn’t have casting vote

By Lokendra Pratap Sahi in Calcutta
  • Published 12.12.18, 3:27 AM
  • Updated 12.12.18, 9:02 AM
  • 8 mins read
  •  
Vinod Rai, the chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators. Prem Singh

The gloves are off.

After being repeatedly humiliated by Vinod Rai, chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), Diana Edulji has hit back with a vengeance.

Diana, the only other Administrator — or, as she asserted, “Equal Member of the CoA” —- has made it clear to Rai that she has “an equal say in all matters... with equal rights, not less or more.”

Indeed, that merely because he is the chairman, Rai doesn’t enjoy a casting vote and, so, “can’t take unilateral decisions.”

Like Rai, Diana has been an Administrator of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the past 23 months.

Diana, a former India captain, landed one blow after another. At one point, she slammed Rai for taking decisions “detrimental to the BCCI’s image. Diana also tore into Rai for seeing “seriousness in selective matters.”

Trouble had been brewing between Diana and Rai for quite sometime and came to a head when the first allegations of sexual misconduct against Rahul Johri, the BCCI’s CEO, surfaced, on October 12.

While Diana wanted Johri to either be sacked or made to resign, Rai preferred to first seek an explanation and, then, unilaterally appointed an independent committee to probe the allegations against his blue-eyed boy.

The independent committee returned a 2-1 verdict in Johri’s favour and Rai again trampled upon Diana’s views. Besides, he didn’t bother to implement the CEO-specific recommendations of the dissenting member — lawyer Veena Gowda.

Naturally, that led to more friction between the Administrators.

Matters got precipitated once the India women’s team returned from the World T20 after losing to England in the semi-finals.

At the centre of the latest row was ODI captain Mithali Raj, who levelled damning allegations against the then head coach Ramesh Powar and Diana.

A former India off-spinner, Powar retaliated with hard facts and his stand was endorsed by T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana.

On November 30, the BCCI (rather Rai and Johri) put out an advertisement seeking applications for the head coach’s position and that wasn’t taken off even after Harmanpreet and Smriti requested that Powar be given a second innings.

The Powar issue, therefore, led to yet another conflict between Diana and Rai as the former rightly felt that Harmanpreet and Smriti’s opinion should be respected, just as Virat Kohli’s views counted for everything when Ravi Shastri became the men’s head coach in July last year.

Relations between Diana and Rai only got worse as the latter, together with Johri and GM Syed Saba Karim, decided on an ad hoc committee to select the next women’s head coach.

The BCCI’s Constitution has no provision for such a committee.

Actually, the head coach’s selection has to be done by the Cricket Advisory Committee, but all three members (Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman) declined to participate in the process.

Diana kept objecting to Rai showing absolutely no respect for any of her opinions and, finally, snapped late on Monday with a terse email after midnight.

It got worse with Rai ignoring Diana for the umpteenth time and instructing Johri and Saba Karim to go ahead with the appointment of an ad hoc committee.

That’s when Diana exploded.

Well-placed sources of The Telegraph have made available the recent exchange of emails between Diana and Rai.

At 2.48 pm on Tuesday, Diana emailed Rai, the three office-bearers of the BCCI, Johri, Saba Karim and a few others: “As chairman, he (Rai) can’t take unilateral decisions as there is no casting vote. Rahul and Saba, without my approval, you cannot proceed on this (appointment of the ad hoc committee) as it does not have my approval.”

Despite that, the ad hoc committee comprising Kapil Dev, Shanta Rangaswamy and Aunshuman Gaekwad got announced some hours later. The Media release was signed by Rai.

Insulted one more time, Diana responded to the announcement by emphasising that the ad hoc committee’s appointment did not have her approval and ended her email by writing: “Diana Edulji, Equal Member of the CoA.”

Diana, clearly, is an aggressive mode after two months of frustration and the swallowing of insults.

It’s to be seen whether any of the three appointees decides to make himself/herself unavailable following this all-out war within the COA.

The recent exchange of emails between Diana and Rai follows...

A) Diana’s email (Dec. 11, 2.48 pm)

“I have read Mr Rai’s mail and don’t agree with it.

As chairman, he can’t take any unilateral decisions as there is no casting vote.

Rahul and Saba, without my approval you cannot proceed on this as it does not have my approval.”

B) Rai’s email (Dec. 11, 2.02 pm)

“I have read Diana’s mail.

I have considered all aspects of the issue. In the best interest of women’s cricket as Chairman of the CoA, I reiterate my views.

Rahul and Saba may please take action as instructed by me yesterday (Monday, Dec. 10).

VR.”

C) Diana’s email (Dec. 11, 12.48 am)

“It is strange that in a democratic set-up of CoA only views of one person are considered and the views expressed by other member (who was also appointed by the Hon’ble SC along with you) don’t matter.

Even I agree enough discussions have been held on both the matters.

With regards to Mayank (Parekh) we had agreed that it was a clear case of conflict of interest but later you changed your stand. Conflict of Interest (COI) rules should not differ depending who the person is, it should be impartial. This is defeating the purpose for what the COA was appointed.

I had expressed that we should not approach C U Singh again as his opinion was already sought in Late Dr (M.V.) Sridhar’s case which was on similar lines and is a certain waste of BCCI resources. But you went ahead and asked legal on your own to take the opinion again (which by the way is not even sent by him directly to us but as presented by legal, which is not even confirmed by him). Such steps by you are detrimental to BCCI’s image.

On the other hand, when I mentioned let’s refer the ad hoc committee issue to Amicus you suddenly care about the deadlines and timelines. And going to Amicus doesn’t even cost BCCI like in case of other opinions. When it suits you then go for opinion and when I say it, there is no need of it.

Regarding the coach, right from the beginning, I have expressed that there should be no change but, with someone’s ulterior motive, emails were leaked and the team was shown as a divided lot which they are not.

Even in the leaks issue you just brushed it off saying this is what BCCI is famous for and it is going on till today. Does this mean it is not the CoA’s job to ensure that such leaks should not happen and measures are taken to stop it. Even now your current email below has already been reported in XXX around 10:28 PM, which is not surprising.

In my absence, you had a meeting with the two women cricket captains and when I enquired on the same; you replied saying they wanted to meet you so you met them.

Once again, you have failed to understand that I have an equal say in all matters of BCCI as CoA with equal rights not less not more.

You went ahead to issue an advert for a new coach without closing the previous process, which was not completed, and 6 shortlisted candidates are waiting for a result. This, I have highlighted in previous mails and legal did not express any views on it.

The CAC has to select the head coach but before their availability was checked, Saba had already spoken to Kapil, Aunshuman and Shubhangi. I enquired for clarity on their conflict roles as how an ad hoc committee was being formed without proper authority. But legal as usual gave a contrary opinion — two different versions on two issues. On one hand, CoA has no powers to look into the COI issue and on other hand CoA has powers to appoint an ad hoc committee.

I see nothing wrong in women cricketers writing emails regarding the coach. They were truthful in expressing their views unlike Virat who frequently sent SMS’s to the CEO on which you acted and there was a change in the coach.

There also I had objected and my dissent is recorded when the timelines were extended for some one to apply as he didn’t apply in time. Mr Kumble, a legend in his own right, was subjected to loss of face and made to look like a villain, he was gracious enough to move on for which I respect him. There also rules were broken and I had raised objections back then.

I still maintain that the CAC should have been given time like requested and their roles should be defined. There is enough time till the next tour.

1. I maintain my stand that there cannot be an ad hoc committee.

2. The previous process of coach selection wherein six candidates were shortlisted has not been closed and if one of them goes to court and the court rules in his/her favour then what? If in Mayank’s case you are worried that he will go to court then this case is of more concern than his. But somehow you see seriousness in selective matters.

3. Mayank case on loss of confidence is ground enough for him to put in his papers or termination order be issued.

To all who are marked on the mail please desist to act on single approval of one CoA member. You are hereby instructed to act when both the members have given the instructions or approval.

Going forward whenever one member is speaking or issuing instructions directly it is your duty to put in on email for record to both the members and you can’t go ahead with instructions from only one CoA member.”

D) Rai’s email (Dec. 10, 8.03 pm)

“We have had enough of discussion on these issues.

I am separating the issues and would like them to be followed up through different channels.

The Mayank Parekh issue.

The legal advice that we have received is final. We can’t keep questioning all opinions — specially when the opinions are of people who are specialist in those fields.

Indranil — please advise if we need to proceed on that issue and was the loss of confidence issue examined by CUS. Can we act on that score.

The selection panel.

Yes — there were differences between Virat and Kumble. As a consequence of that Kumble stepped back.

More importantly — the team did not send emails. The team must realise that that coaches are not decided on team votes.

If it is a question of respecting opinions of senior players — why not respect the opinion of the senior-most player — in fact the ODI captain of the team?

What I cannot understand is why some members of the team, or any other person advising them, is against having an internationally-acclaimed coach.

Don’t we seek to upgrade the team from the plateau that they keep hitting in international games?

Any way we have had enough of a debate on this.

The advert for the head coach has been issued.

If media is to be believed, internationally reputed coaches have applied/ are applying.

We cannot now withdraw and say that we will continue with our ad hoc coach of three months — who has been the reason for such bad blood in the team.

This chapter has to be closed and the earlier the better.

We suggested a selection panel. Diana had an opinion on it. We have agreed with that opinion.

Ms Shubhangi Kulkarni, on Diana’s suggestion, has been told that she will not be considered. She will be replaced by Ms Shanta Rangaswamy.

Can we get a more credible panel than: Kapil Dev, Aunshuman Gaekwad (and both have agreed to be on the panel) and Shantha?

I am constrained to now instruct Rahul/ Saba to issue the notification regarding constituting the panel.

The three names will be as above. Please speak with the three members and get their availability. If any of them back out, or have prior commitments, we can put in substitutes tomorrow.

We can’t extend uncertainty. Our men’s team is doing so well with all the confusion far behind them.

We have to support the women’s team with the best. They deserve it. We must have a vision 2020 for the World Cup in place and have the team work towards it.

Saba and Rahul, please have the process going.

Diana, my humble request to you is to go along with this long-term planning. By your own admission (when Tushar Arothe had to be changed) you mentioned that the girls keep approaching you for advice and airing their grievances. Persuade the team to grow out of micro issues — look at the macro picture.

They have a great future and we need to support them.

Best.

VR”