Srinivasan stays not out, 'steps aside' till probe is completed

Chennai, June 3 -- Over the years, N Srinivasan has proved in the corridors of power in Chennai that he means business and at one point had battled hard to wrest back the control of his company, India Cements. Having been pushed to the wall and humiliated in public, Srinivasan was thought to be fighting a losing battle as BCCI president.

The emergency working committee meeting of the Board held in Srinivasan's bastion was meant to be a formality and end of his reign. But what transpired was completely different.

Lone voice

Contrary to popular opinion and perception that he would be forced to resign, Srinivasan held on to his position as the BCCI chief emphatically. In fact, during a two-hour long meeting, Inderjit Singh Bindra, president of the Punjab Cricket Association and a former BCCI chief, was the only member out of 24 to formally ask for Srinivasan's resignation. The only setback for him was that Sanjay Jagdale and Ajay Shrike declined to take back their resignations as secretary and treasurer of the Board respectively.

"Nobody technically asked for Srinivasan's resignation. The members were murmuring and saying in private but officially no one asked for his resignation. I was the only one who asked for it. The members either lacked confidence or were expressionless," said Bindra, clearly disappointed with the outcome and calling it a 'farce'.

Srinivasan will only 'step aside' till the probe over the charges against his son-in-law and Chennai Super Kings official M Gurunath for alleged betting is completed. Till then, International Cricket Council and BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya will look into the day-to-day affairs of the BCCI.

Stage managed

While claiming that he was not asked to resign by Bindra, Srinivasan later said, "After discussions, I announced I will not discharge my duty till the probe is completed. In the meanwhile, because the Board has to function, the Board asked Mr Dalmiya to take care of the things," he said.

The outcome of the much-anticipated meeting seemed entirely scripted by Srinivasan. The 68-year-old was defiant throughout the meeting and stood his ground that he had done nothing wrong and there was no reason for him to resign.

The Board's other influential members -- vice-president Arun Jaitley and Rajeev Shukla, who resigned as chairman of the Indian domestic league, but took part in the meeting as president of the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association, joined in through video conference. The two politicians were the only one who were in discussion with Srinivasan, with Jaitley asking him to 'step aside' from Board's activities till the probe was completed.

Calling the shots

While Srinivasan consented, he said he would accept only Dalmiya as interim president ruling out Jaitley's other choice Shashank Manohar, the former BCCI chief, for the role.

Old warhorse returns for the last hurrah

"I would say Mr Jaitley was the one who called the shots. Most of the proposals and suggestions came from him, including the appointment of Dalmiya," revealed Bindra.

Srinivasan said he would not associate with the Board's activities for a period of one month, for which Jaitley responded by saying that he should not lay a time frame.

Jaitley was the only one Srinivasan was listening to apparently. Jaitley assured the beleaguered chief that he would be allowed to come back if he is not guilty.

While Srinivasan would stay away in 'official capacity', he would still be in control of the BCCI affairs.

He even declined to give an official term for Dalmiya's role, and was adamant the veteran administrator will only be acting as interim chief. Dalmiya will look into the Board affairs and would report to the working committee once a week through phone or e-mails. In short, Dalmiya will have no authority to take any decisions and Srinivasan could still 'rubber-stamp' any resolution.

"My priorities are to keep the day-to-day affairs of the Board running, and then to clean up cricket. I don't have too much time on my hands, so I need to work quickly on that," said the 73-year-old Dalmiya. While there were suggestions that the meeting would be acrimonious, but as Srinivasan put it, it was a 'smooth affair'.

Board's probe panel lacks legal sanctity, says livid Bindra

The big news that emerged on Sunday is the appointment of the three-member inquiry commission to probe into allegations against Srinivasan's son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan. The facts about the committee's formation emerged following grilling by IS Bindra, the Punjab Cricket Association president. "Who made this committee," I asked. Srinivasan said 'I don't know'. I asked Ratnakar Shetty and he said a committee named the probe panel. That committee consisted of Sundar Raman, Shetty, Peter Griffith (from IMG), and Raman (the BCCI lawyer)," Bindra said.

Given that the names in the committee have no standing the BCCI, the panel is being termed as a farce. Sanjay Jagdale, who was the third member, has resigned from the committee. Bindra said there is legal issue with the committee as there is no provision for it in the constitution. "When I pointed it out, Jaitely said he would look in it."

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.