The most honest and probably the truest words that came out of BCCI president N Srinivasan's mouth at his press conference in Kolkata on Sunday afternoon were not directed at the media gathered before him. Neither were they directed at the people glued with expectancy to their TV screens. No, they were almost murmured, as Srinivasan's head turned to his right side and he raised a finger upwards, addressing a nondescript individual: "That light has to be switched off. I can't read ..."
Those ten words were as real as Srinivasan would get over the 25-odd minutes. Here on, the words that came forth from Srinivasan, staccato and with a typewriter-like proficiency, were so thinly veiled in arrogance, absurdity and sheer disregard for the notion that his association with the arrested Gurunath Meiyappan, his son-in-law, could tarnish the BCCI's reputation and undermine his position as board president.
The most brazen of Srinivasan's statements on Sunday was the appointment of a three-member commission to probe the charges against Meiyappan - no matter how hard the Srinivasan-headed India Cements Ltd tries to cover it up - the team principal and owner of Chennai Super Kings. This commission, as Srinivasan revealed, will have one non-official BCCI in it. Then he went on to name a five-member panel from which two would join the panel to investigate Meiyappan.
Again, it was a shot in Srinivasan's own foot. Two of the five that Srinivasan adhered to sat next to him - the honorary secretary Sanjay Jagdale and treasurer Ajay Shirke. The other three were BCCI vice-president Arun Jaitley, the IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla and Ravi Shastri, a contracted BCCI commentator. All three are members of the IPL governing council. Where the tournament that this very group of men governs needs to investigated, here was Srinivasan appointing them as the investigators. Conflict of interest? Judge for yourself.
Being BCCI president and managing director of CSK owners India Cements, how can Srinivasan assure that a BCCI-directed committee will conduct a fair investigation into the activities of his kin who happens to run the IPL's biggest and most successful franchise owned by a company he is head of? Will the commission be able to directly question Srinivasan over Gurunath's involvement with CSK? These are two huge questions hanging over the BCCI following Sunday's press conference.
What Srinivasan should have said was that the BCCI was setting up an independent commission made up of non-BCCI personnel, not earning money off its coffers. That would have been the most credible statement he could have made. Instead, true to BCCI diktat and history, Srinivasan made an audacious statement that lacks credibility. The very credibility that the BCCI and the IPL needs to protect and restore in times of extreme distress and with allegations of illegal activities threatening to hurt Indian cricket.
The second most banal statement that Srinivasan made on Sunday was in regard to Meiyappan's role with CSK. Incredulously, Srinivasan looked the cameras in the eye and termed his son-in-law as being 'enthusiastic' about cricket. Sorry, what?
Meiyappan was a very public figure in CSK's functioning. He attended auctions, he bid for players, he spoke on record of his role as owner and he was at the matches. His Twitter ID had him designated as the team principal for CSK, he has been recorded on camera talking about managing the franchise, he has an access card confirming him as a team owner. If that amounts to being merely a cricket enthusiast, then any lingering thoughts about Srinivasan emerging unscathed from this mess can be doused.
And now to Srinivasan's third stunning claim. In the closest he came to displaying emotion while reading out his statement, Srinivasan addressed the issue of the media commenting on Clause 11.3 of the BCCI-IPL franchise agreement and whether Meiyappan was a CSK owner by stating that it was up to the inquiry commission to determine that. Are we supposed to believe that Srinivasan does not who owns CSK?
What Sunday's press conference did convince those who watched it was that the actions taken against Gurunath were to cover up Srinivasan. That one irritant light-bulb in a Kolkata conference hall may have been switched off with ease to suit Srinivasan's liking, but the glare that he's trying to shield himself from in the real world won't be so simple to shut off.