NewDelhi/Nagpur: BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur on Tuesday sought to put to rest the speculations about the candidate for the board’s top post by revealing that Shashank Manohar has emerged as a “consensus” candidate. Thakur, who made a visit to the Palam Air Force Ground, the venue of the warm-up T20 match between India A and South Africa, also informed that the board has called a Special General Meeting (SGM) on October 4 in Mumbai to elect the next president.
“Shashank Manohar is the consensus candidate. He is the only candidate for the post. We have called the SGM in Mumbai on Sunday at 2 pm, where the decision in this regard will be taken,” Thakur said.
Manohar, a lawyer by profession, earlier held the post from 2008 to 2011. Thakur said that in case the election happens, then former BCCI president N Srinivasan can come and cast his vote as a Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) representative. “But he cannot attend the meeting. It’s not necessary that Srinivasan has to come personally. Any other TNCA representative can vote. The Supreme Court’s hearing on Srinivasan’s eligibility to attend the BCCI meetings is slated for October 5,” the BJP Parliamentarian said.
The surprise announcement by Thakur came just a few hours after he was summoned by the Supreme Court-appointed Justice RM Lodha committee for his views on the reforms in the BCCI. “I had a good one-hour meeting with the Justice Lodha committee. The BCCI has implemented the committee’s first set of recommendations in toto, and now we will wait for its verdict and suggestions,” he said.
Thakur’s decision to announce Manohar’s candidature from his group, backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its heavyweight Arun Jaitely, doesn’t seem to be a spontaneous one. The BCCI insiders say that it was a well-calculated move to make his position safer under the next chief.
Keeping in mind how fast equations are changing in the BCCI, and the objections by some East Zone units which want a candidate from their own zone, the rival factions are still making last-ditch effort to stop Manohar from taking over the reins for the second time. Manohar’s clean image and plain speaking is making some of the BCCI members wary. That’s why the names of IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla and Jharkhand Cricket Association (JCA) president Amitabh Chaudhary were floated to create a confusion amongst three different lobbies controlling 29 votes (30 in total, but Rajasthan is suspended).
In fact, the NCP supremo and former BCCI chief Sharad Pawar, who could not get a proposer and a seconder from the East Zone during the last elections, decided to meet Srinivasan in Nagpur last Wednesday. This was Srinivasan’s fifth meeting with Pawar in the last three months. And many insiders believe it was Srinivisan’s last-ditch attempt to regain some of the lost ground by offering an “unconditional” support to Pawar.
Knowing that Srinivasan, controlling about six votes, and Pawar camp, having the support of 12 to 16 candidates, could forge an alliance, Thakur facilitated an emergency meeting of Manohar and Ajay Shirke (Maharashtra Cricket Association president) at Jaitely’s residence last weekend to nip the possibility in the bud. “It was important to keep the BCCI under their own rule, and not allow Srinivasan to make any kind of comeback,” said an insider.
According to sources, it was decided during the meeting that “only a strong person with an impeccable image can take the BCCI out of the ongoing mess”. So Manohar’s name came up , which left the hopefuls like Shukla and Chaudhary with little chance.
With Manohar’s emergence as a “consensus” candidate, the Srinivasan group is in a shock. From the position of king-maker, the serving ICC president now finds himself completely isolated. When The Tribune contacted Srinivasan, he refused to comment on Thakur’s revelation about Manohar today.
But knowing how Srinivasan has changed equations in the past, one cannot rule him out completely till October 3, when the nominations would come up for scrutiny. For now, though, it seems Manohar is coming back for the second innings.