CHENNAI/KOLKATA/NEW DELHI, 2 JUNE: Bowing to all-round pressure, N Srinivasan today agreed to “step aside” as BCCI President under a compromise formula that brought back former chief Jagmohan Dalmiya as head of a four-member “interim arrangement” to run the Board, more than a fortnight after the spot-fixing scandal rocked the cricketing world.
In a decision in which the pro-Sharad Pawar group appeared to have suffered a dent, the Working Committee of the Board decided that Mr Dalmiya will conduct its day-to-day affairs after Mr Srinivasan announced that he will not discharge his duties as the President till such time the probe is completed.
Sources said that key members including Mr Arun Jaitley, Mr Rajeev Shukla and Mr Anurag Thakur appeared to have tilted the scales in favour of Mr Dalmiya and softened the blow on Mr Srinivasan.
While the Pawar group may have wanted former chief Shashank Manohar in Mr Dalmiya’s place, it could also not ensure that Mr Srinivasan resigned.
The 73-year-old Dalmiya will appoint a new member on the three-member inquiry commission in place of Mr Sanjay Jagdale that will go into the allegations of betting and spot-fixing against Mr Srinivasan’s son-in-law and CSK Team Principal, Mr Gurunath Meiyappan, and his franchise CSK.
Twenty-four members of the Board attended the meeting in which there was no demand made for his resignation, Mr Srinivasan said, though Punjab Cricket Association chief I S Bindra claimed that he did raise such a demand. Two senior members of the Working Comm-ittee said that the word resignation was not used at the meeting.
The meeting also urged Secretary Jagdale and Treasurer Ajay Shirke, who resigned from the posts a couple of days ago, to rethink their decision and get back to the Board within 24 hours. However, both of them said after the meeting that they had decided not to withdraw their resignations.
Later in the evening, Mr Dalmiya said if they did not join duty, he may have to do their work. He is taking this as a challenge to clean the muck maligning cricket in the wake of the spotfixing scam.
“This is not an individual victory. The need of the hour is to cleanse cricket. That’s my top priority,” he told reporters after arriving in Kolkata from the BCCI emergent working committee meeting in Chennai.
Mr Srinivasan, who has been facing calls for resignation as BCCI chief ever since the arrest of his son-in-law, said he had taken an extraordinarily fair step by stepping aside.
After the meeting, Mr Jaitley said Mr Srinivasan will maintain an “arms length distance” from the probe against his son-in-law Meiyappan, even as Mr Bindra said the whole show appeared to have been stage-managed by Mr Srinivasan and what he called the "Delhi Group".
Mr Shirke, said to be close to Mr Pawar, expressed unhappiness over the decision of the Working Committee and wondered how this arrangement could work. “I personally cannot make out how this kind of arrangement will work. I have just reaffirmed my decision (not to withdraw the resignation). He said he and Jagdale were requested by all the Working Committee members to withdraw their resignations. “My final decision is that I cannot continue”.
“Nobody except Mr Bindra and myself and a couple of others… We did question the modalities of this arrangement,” he said. Mr Bindra was more forthright in his attack on the decisions of the Working Committee. “Mr Jaitley has had his way in this meeting. Most of the suggestions came from Mr Jaitley, including the appointment of Mr Dalmiya,” Mr Bindra said. “Srinivasan is not resigning. He is just stepping aside for one month. This is taking the public for a ride. We needed something more than this. I suggested, let him step aside until September, but he said he is not going to resign,” Mr Bindra said.
Sources said at the start of the meeting Mr Srinivasan gave a resume of issues including domestic and pending issues with the ICC. He then spoke of the two incidents involving three players allegedly involved in spot-fixing and the Gurunath Meiyappan betting issue. He then told the committee about the resignation of Jagdale and Shirke and that it was unacceptable.
Mr Jaitley, a Vice President, participating in the meeting through video conferencing from Delhi, expressed concern about the credibility of the Board taking a beating because of the actions of the three players and Gurunath. “Step aside till the pendency of inquiry and not discharge any presidential functions for a free and fair probe,” Mr Jaitley told Mr Srinivasan which he immediately agreed. Mr Bindra questioned the validity of the meeting as it has been called in just one day. Mr Shukla countered it saying that this meeting can be ratified by the next WC meeting. A suggestion was made by some members that Mr Jaitley take over as interim president but he refused citing busy political commitments. Mr Jaitley then proposed the names of Mr Shashank Manohar and Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya as two candidates who should be the leader of the “interim arrangement” till the probe is over.
Mr Srinivasan was told then that he could come back as president if he is cleared in the probe.