New Delhi: N Srinivasan, firmly entrenched till a couple of months ago not just as the BCCI chief but as the most powerful cricket official in the world, has his reign hanging by a thread now. BCCI members from around the country are now more than merely nudging him to step aside.
But this endgame threatens to be messy. Srinivasan knows that 24 of 30 members are needed to impeach him if he refuses to quit on his own, and that number will not be achieved easily by his opponents in the board. But with the squeeze from strong voices, how long can Srinivasan hold off? Interestingly, key figures such as Arun Jaitley, who have been silent publicly, appear to have employed members of their associations to keep the pressure on.
There is already talk in Board circles about who will take his place once Srinivasan exits. Among the names doing the rounds is Sharad Pawar, former BCCI and ICC boss. Associations close to Pawar are already openly asking for Srinivasan's exit, and in his first public comments on Wednesday, Pawar made a pointed reference to how things would have never reached this point under his watch.
But can Pawar really make such a claim? CNN-IBN is in possession of documents that prove beyond doubt that as BCCI president in 2008, he allowed Srinivasan to purchase an IPL team in violation of rules. A letter from January 2008 establishes how Pawar, on the advice of other BCCI members, accepted a plea from India Cements to participate in the bidding process for IPL teams. It was under Pawar that this critical constitutional amendment was made allowing a Board office bearer to own a team.
Nine months after Pawar accepted the India Cements' plea to bid for a team, the clause was altered, from saying "no administrator shall have, directly or indirectly any commercial interest in the matches and events conducted by the Board" to "no administrator shall have directly or indirectly any commercial interest in any of the events of the BCCI excluding the IPL, Champions League and T20".
Sharad Pawar's double-speak, from facilitating Srinivasan's move to bid and buy the Chennai IPL franchise, and now taking potshots at Srinivasan's presidency, isn't lost on the BCCI members who are watching with rapt attention. And while the heat is on Srinivasan, there are many in the board who will fight tooth and nail to prevent the Maratha strongman from getting a re-run as BCCI president.