Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Some plain and to-the-point talk by new BCCI president Shashank Manohar, both before and after Sundays’ SGM where he was elected to head the sporting body for a second time, had sent a clear message to the Srinivasan camp: the Board would fight each and every case he has filed in the courts even as he said that he would not be vindictive.
The immediate reaction was that the very next day Srinivasan withdrew his perjury application against Board secretary Anurag Thakur in the Supreme Court. Three other officials including BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry, who too had filed affidavits in Srinivasan’s support were quick to follow their ‘boss.’
That was the first concrete indication that Manohar, a no-nonsense administrator, was out to take the bull by its horns and would not tolerate any wrongdoing. Manohar’s message had been delivered – fast and straight.
According to sources in the BCCI, Manohar’s strategy began even before the special general meeting started at 2 pm at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai on 4 October. He met PS Raman, a vice-president of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) and representing the body at the meeting, before the SGM and delivered a plain talk.
He asked him to convey his message to the Srinivasan, who chose to skip the conclave after it became clear that his group was completely marginalised in the aftermath of the changed alignments within and outside the BCCI.
A source who was present at the Manohar-PS Raman meeting before the SGM said that the new BCCI boss told the TNCA representative in clear terms that Srinivasan’s “game was over.”
“In the presence of a few members of our group, Manohar told Raman that whatever he [Srinivasan] was doing was very wrong, and that if he insisted on fighting court cases, the Board had the capacity to fight them out, one by one,” the source told www.jantakareporter.com
“Manohar said ultimately all these controversies had given the BCCI a bad name all over the world and that Srinivasan should understand this. He told Raman that Srinivasan should also understand that his game was now over and that he should keep quiet,” he disclosed.
The source informed that Manohar also told PS Raman that ‘whatever wrong Srinivasan had done would remain wrong,’ and that ‘he would not show any leniency towards him, at any cost.’
According to the source, at the SGM, where Manohar was elected unopposed, he struck a conciliatory note when he told the house that “we all are one, and for the betterment of the game, TNCA should also be with us”.
“But he also said that whatever wrong things have been done action would be taken against those within the framework of the rules,” the source disclosed.
“Manohar emphasised to PS Raman that he was not vindictive by nature. He said that the Board would fight the court cases on a case-to-case basis, and told him that where Srinivasan was wrong he would remain wrong [in his eyes], and that Srinivasan would have to face the music for that,” said the source, giving an account of what transpired behind the scenes. “Manohar said that would be his stand.”
“PS Raman appreciated Manohar’s stand and said that he would convey his message to Srinivasan, but that it was up to him to heed to it or not.”
It seems Srinivasan read the clear writing on the wall. “It looks like Srinivasan realised the gravity of the situation and the very next day he withdrew the perjury case against Anurag Thakur in the Supreme Court,” the source said.
The source said during that meeting, held before the SGM, Manohar had also told Raman that if Srinivasan wanted to go ahead with the perjury case, the BCCI would fight it out, but that it “would be unending”.
In his perjury application, Srinivasan had alleged that Thakur had deliberately given wrong information while seeking the Supreme Court’s opinion on whether or not he [Srinivasan] could attend BCCI meetings as the court declared him to be in a conflict-of-interest zone. Thakur had alleged that Srinivasan had “barged” into the meeting room, something that the former BCCI chief was contesting.
Srinivasan even got three key BCCI officials – Board treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry, Kerala cricket president TC Mathew and Kerala joint secretary Jayesh George – to support his application.
Manohar dealt with this issue also with an iron hand – and with desired results.
“Anirudh was also explained before the SGM that he was not supposed to do what he had done [filed affidavit against his BCCI colleague Thakur] while being part of the treasury bench,” said the source. “He understood the situation and said that he would take back his affidavit.”
Anirudh withdrew his affidavit the very next day, when Srinivasan too pulled out his perjury application.
In their signed affidavits, Chaudhry, Mathew and George had said that Srinivasan had asked them to support his perjury application in the ongoing main case between Cricket Association of Bihar and BCCI.
Referring to that case, all three officials wrote in their respective affidavits: “…I have been requested by Shri N. Srinivasan, the Respondent No.2 herein to give an accurate account of the meeting of the working committee of BCCI held on 28 August 2015 at Kolkata to this Hon’ble court since I am told that the application made on behalf of the BCCI in the above Appeal for clarification gives an incorrect version of the said meeting.”
All three also claimed that Jagmohan Dalmiya, then BCCI president and chairman of the meeting, arrived in the boardroom 30 minutes late and the meeting got over in “two-three minutes”.
“No one present in the meeting had raised any objection in the meeting to the presence of Shri N. Srinivasan in the meeting, including the office-bearers.”
“Anirudh, Mathew and George also claimed in their affidavits that their accounts were ‘correct to my personal knowledge’. And, clearly to save their skin, they said they were ‘not aware of the contents of the application/affidavits filed on behalf of the BCCI’ in the ongoing case,” the source pointed out.
One of the three officials apparently told Manohar and his friends that “the younger one” in their group had ‘misled’ others.
“This person said that he was kept in the dark [about the affidavits filed by Srinivasan]. He claimed that the younger one in his group had been misguiding everyone,” said the source. “Anyway, he and the two others who had filed the affidavits have since taken U-turns. They have now realised they have been isolated in the Board, so now everyone wants to join hands [with the ruling group]. But this was expected, too.”
The source also said in Kolkata on August 28, Srinivasan had insisted that he would attend the working meeting committee, before Dalmiya adjourned it. “Srinivasan had apparently told one key Board official that day that he would attend the meeting and that if the Board office-bearers didn’t want him there they could call the bouncers and throw him out by force,” claimed the source.
There is a string view in the ruling group that Srinivasan should be replaced as ICC chairman as the BCCI has the right to change its nominee.
“The upcoming AGM will decide about the BCCI nominee for the ICC. But as of now, I don’t think Srinivasan has any chance to go to the ICC [after the AGM],” the source averred.
Asked if he meant to say Srinivasan would be replaced, the source simply said: “Naturally.” On Srinivasan’s likely replacement, he said: “Let’s see who goes; whether it is Manohar or Sharad Pawar. But this is a secondary thing; first we’ve to talk about cricket.”
“As of today, there is no understanding like that,” he said, referring to the speculation that Srinivasan withdrew his perjury case against Thakur on the understanding that he would be allowed to continue as ICC chairman.
Only about nine months are left in Srinivasan’s two-year tenure. But we will know Srinivasan’s fate vis-à-vis soon, the day the AGM takes place.