Mudgal Report a big blow to Srinivasan

By Veturi Srivatsa,

The exiled Indian cricket board president Narayanaswamy Srinivasan was just praying that his name should not figure in the Justice Mudgal Committee report on betting and spot-fixing in the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL). His prayers went unanswered and his name figured prominently among the four individuals identified in the report submitted to the Supreme Court.

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To Srinivasan’s chagrin, a bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Khalifulla mentioned his name along with his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, COO of the Indian Premier League Sundar Raman and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Raj Kundra. The bench also decided to make the panel’s conclusions on the four to be made public while the players named will not be revealed for now.

The bench has sought their response to the report copies of which will be given to them.

Interestingly, the report has been submitted in two parts — one relating to the players and the other, as what Justic Thakur beautifully put it, about the four “non-playing actors” the Mudgal panel named.

The apex court pointed out that Justice Mudgal report’s conclusions clearly “suggest misdemeanour” in the conduct of some individuals and players in last year’s IPL. The revelation is clearly a big setback for Srinivasan

Justice Thakur, who is known for his outspoken observations, told the Indian cricket board counsel that there is no question of Srinivasan seeking re-election till the issue of betting and spot-fixing is resolved, thus demolishing his oft-repeated assertion that “he was not being investigated”.

Justice Thakur’s remark shows the seriousness with which the apex court is taking the whole issue, more so after it received the meticulously investigated report.

Frankly, the Board of Control for Cricket inIndia (BCCI) is only interested in what the Supreme Court bench presided over by Thakur says on Srinivasan and his re-election.

The BCCI counsel promptly announced that the board’s scheduled Annual General Meeting (AGM) for Nov 20, hoping Srinivasan will not be named in the report, will again be postponed by another month.

It is now clear that the report did not take kindly to Srinivasan’s defence of his “cricket enthusiast” son-in-law and Chennai Super Kings principal Gurunath Meiyappan.

Of course, Srinivasan will contest the report. But what is worrying his flock is how long can they cling on to him in the changed circumstances. The board, Srinivasan kept assuring, is behind him and that no one has asked him to resign. To show his strength, he called his groupies for a conclave of his supporters in Chennai, though their number varied.

Most board members Friday said the situation is fluid and that there is more to the whole exercise than meets the eye. It is game of 30 board members and everyone is looking forward to what stand former president Sharad Pawar and potential future president Arun Jaitley would take on Srinivasan’s continuance in the board.

The churning has begun and everyone is waiting for someone to bell the cat.

Some of Pawar’s supporters are keen that the former International Cricket Council (ICC) president should take on the incumbent chief and they say he is not averse to the suggestion.

The first indication came from another former president Shashank Manohar. He apparently is willing to fight the man who collaborated with him to throw former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi out of the board.

Pawar’s decision is shrewdly linked to his Maharashtra politics. If his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) continues to prop up the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to keep the Shiv Sena at bay, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president — and also president of the Gujarat Cricket Association — Amit Shah might as a quid pro quo throw their lot with the Maratha strongman.

Jaitley, who has serious differences with Pawar in board politics, controls nine votes – Gujarat, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and the three government votes Services, Railways and Universities — while Pawar has eight – Bombay, Saurashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, J&K, Vidarbha, Punjab and CCI.

As of now, Srinivasan has the backing of East Zone which is willing to give him another term as East’s candidate as president. He also naturally has the southern votes.

Then there are a couple of malleable officials who walk into an election AGM with the incumbent president and if he loses they would be seen coming out with the new president. One of them has a stock line: Show me 15 votes and mine will be the 16th!

(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected])