Many think Shashank Manohar can restore cricket board's credibility
In the face of any crisis, the Indian cricket board tries to first protect its interests. In the wake of the Supreme Court rejecting Narayanaswamy Srinivasan's emotional appeal for his reinstatement as board president, the members have realised that things have gone too far and it would be difficult for them to stick to their boss.
Slowly the knives are coming out. For starters, half-a-dozen affiliates have asked for an emergent meeting Sunday to deliberate on the issues raised by the apex court.
When the court says it cannot close its eyes to the findings of the inquiry it has set up, more so when a panel suggests further investigations into some serious allegations, the board cannot say let the law take its own course.
The apex court has told Srinivasan in no uncertain terms that he should stay away till he is cleared of any wrongdoing since his name figures in the list of 13 people along with some India players sent by the Mudgal Committee in a separate envelope. The three-member committee has arrived at its conclusions after an exhaustive probe into the sport-fixing and the role of Srinivasan's son-in-law in it during last year's Indian Premier League (IPL).
The apex court has made it clear that it does not want to impinge on the institutional autonomy of the board by ordering a CBI inquiry or constituting a SIT and that the board in its own interest should find a way to clear the air and put its house in order.
Taking the cue, the board members are getting emboldened to take on Srinivasan, now that the court, to borrow a basketball phrase, has boxed him out.
The members know that it is not at all easy to challenge someone in power, more so Srinivasan who used the same Machiavellian methods adopted by Jagmohan Dalmiya when he was riding high as the undisputed ringmaster till Sharad Pawar rallied all those who didn't have the courage to revolt against the Bengal czar.
Srinivasan knows the weaknesses of his friends in the board and exploited this to survive every crisis - be it the conflict of interest in the IPL, his brinkmanship in taking on and bending the International Cricket Council, throwing out IPL teams for not falling line or arm twisting sponsors.
He could get away because the board members are unwilling to take him head on as a majority of them are indebted to him in some way or the other. Most of them have been silenced by the doles in the form of huge shares of TV rights money and also subsidies to build world class stadiums in the states.
What board members do not realise is handouts alone can't be a sign of good governance. It is intriguing how powerful politicians of all hues are unwilling to tell him that he is wrong on more counts than one and has to go by.
The first traces of revolt can be seen. Someone like Shivlal Yadav, a Srinivasan acolyte whom the Supreme has appointed as interim board president for administrative purposes, made a lofty statement that he is not one to run away from responsibility. He added a caveat too: That his stint is too short (till September) to produce any dramatic results.
Now the members are flocking to another former board chief, Shashank Manohar, who has publicly stated that there is no leader in the present board to take on Srinvasan. They want him to lend his voice to their unhappiness at Sunday's meeting. He acted pricey for a while, saying he had not made up his mind to attend, but he has apparently told some friends that he would be there at Mumbai's Cricket Centre, the board's headquarters in Mumbai.
This is the same Shashank Manohar, who as board president went along with secretary Srinivasan in deflecting the spotlight from the collective wrongdoings of the board in handling the IPL on to its chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi by making him the fall guy.
Modi has raised a couple of disturbing questions like during Manohar's time the minutes of a meeting being manipulated to help Srinivasan to get his company's team in the IPL.
Manohar was also guilty of keeping quiet when Dalmiya was riding roughshod over another former president, Inderjit Singh Bindra, by getting him suspended from the board.
Yet, to be fair to Manohar, he can at least restore some credibility to the board at this critical juncture when its image is so badly battered. Ironically, the constitutional amendment Srinivasan rammed through to perpetuate his rule will now help Manohar to ascend to the throne again!
Now Manohar might like Bindra to be around at Sunday's meeting, though he ignored his warning that by playing into Srinivasan's hands he would be destroying the hoary traditions of the board. They found a way to discredit Bindra by branding him a Modi cohort, nullifying his enormous contribution to the board.
The day may not be far when the president of the Gujarat Cricket Association, Narendra Modi, will capture the board and rule it by proxy through the association's working president Amit Shah, or former president Narahari Amin, who has deserted the Congress to join Modi's BJP. But Modi's favourite will still be Arun Jaitley and he is acceptable to quite a few board members.
(Veturi Srivatsa is the IANS Sports Editor. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 19-04-2014)