Shashank Manohar: It’s time for tough calls

The BCCI President, Shashank Manohar’s (in pic) ‘Operation Clean-up’ initiative is likely to have a snowballing effect, particularly in the context of ‘conflict of interest’.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President, Shashank Manohar.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

The joint effort of the Mukul Mudgal Committee — which first submitted a report on betting, spot-fixing and match-fixing in the 2013 Indian Premier League and also examined other cases — the Supreme Court and the Justice R. M. Lodha Committee led to the ejection of the former BCCI President, N. Srinivasan (because of his conflict of interest position), from the Board meetings. However, the ‘Operation Clean-up’ initiative taken by the BCCI President, Shashank Manohar, is likely to have a snowballing effect, particularly in the context of ‘conflict of interest’, as some administrators, cricketers and selectors fall under this rule.

Rakesh Parikh, Baroda’s former opening batsman, resigned as vice-president of the Baroda Cricket Association and also as an employee of Reliance Industries to come clear of the conflict of interest rule and become the junior national selector from West Zone.

Soon after his election as the BCCI President, Manohar, in a press conference, said he will “do things” in two months’ time to win back the confidence of the cricket fans and change the perception of the people, who feel they have been short-changed by the IPL mess. Barring the Rajasthan Cricket Association — which has been suspended for defying the BCCI and electing Lalit Modi as its president — he has convinced the other 29 members, who have voting rights, to back him in making changes to the Memorandum and Rules and Regulations of the Board.

Manohar, 58, has been associated with the BCCI administration for many years. He also showed interest in its politics, perhaps with the objective of weakening Purshottam Rungta’s influence in Central Zone and the BCCI, and then freeing the Board of Jagmohan Dalmiya’s blanket control. Manohar aligned with Sharad Pawar, Srinivasan and Modi at an AGM in Kolkata in 2005 to outwit Dalmiya. However, 10 years later, Dalmiya staged a stunning comeback after the same group, in September 2010, had withdrawn a civil suit relating to an alleged embezzlement from PILCOM (1996 World Cup) funds. Subsequently, the BCCI made no reference to the recovery of Rs. 43 crore from him in its annual report and accounts. Five years later, in March 2015, Dalmiya was elected President.

So, did the BCCI actually lose Rs. 43 crore? One will never know. Perhaps the BCCI ought not to have filed the case as it had adopted the audited accounts for close to a decade and a half. It saw the futility of the case and went by Arun Jaitley’s advice to withdraw the suit.

Dalmiya’s return as BCCI President happened after Modi’s ban and the Supreme Court forced Srinivasan to step away from discharging his duties as the Board President. Many in the BCCI stepped down from their positions on moral grounds (Sanjay Jagdale as the Board’s secretary and Ajay Shirke as its treasurer). Manohar was quite peeved that Srinivasan did not do the same in spite of an assurance that he (Srinivasan) would be brought back as president once the IPL mess was cleared.

The absence of a tough administrator paved the way for Manohar’s comeback though he had vowed in 2011 that he would never step into the BCCI office. He was in the vanguard in the fight against corruption, appealing for tough decisions to be taken against the IPL. After taking over the reins of the BCCI in early October, Manohar voiced concern over the Rs. 65 crore spent on legal expenses in the last two fiscals.

The BCCI — which could finally convene the AGM on November 9 following the Supreme Court’s opinion that it need not knock at its door to know whether Srinivasan can attend the Board meetings — adopted virtually all the changes to the rules and regulations, including the one related to the conflict of interest, and amendments to its constitution. The Board appointed a three-member committee, headed by TNCA’s P. S. ‘Bharat’ Raman, to fine-tune the proposed changes after Manohar and Jyotiraditya Scindia almost protested against the plan to bring an outsider as the ombudsman and three other outsiders as members of the IPL Governing Council.

Justice (retd) A. P. Shah has been appointed ombudsman for one year.

It is possible that the ombudsman may not have the last word on serious charges of misconduct, indiscipline and violation of rules and regulations of the BCCI against administrators, as defined by the BCCI, which include all the committee members, present and past office-bearers of the Board and its affiliated units. Besides, his report would have to be adopted by the general body, which would meet every three months.

Manohar’s push for three independent members in the IPL Governing Council may not fructify, but one has to wait and see.

The AGM removed Roger Binny and Anil Kumble on grounds of conflict of interest and perhaps for more unstated reasons, and decided to invite bids for two new franchises to replace Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals for the IPL in 2016 and 2017. Manohar and others are waiting for the Lodha Committee to submit its recommendations on best practices and reforms to be followed by the Board.

The BCCI has to deal with more embarrassing situations vis-à-vis its members, namely the Rajasthan Cricket Association, Jammu & Kashmir Cricket Association, Assam Cricket Association, National Cricket Club, Delhi and District Cricket Association on different issues. Manohar has to take tough calls.