Evasive and defensive almost to the point of being arrogant — that is how the BCCI president N Srinivasan came across yesterday at a much-awaited press conference in a five-star hotel here, a few hours before the Indian Premier League final got underway at the Eden Gardens.
I did no wrong
This hotel has been witness to many a BCCI drama, not the least of which was the AGM which saw the end of the Dalmiya regime and the rise of Sharad Pawar as the cricket supremo of the country in 2005. But yesterday, the potentially explosive scene was painfully muted. And the refrain that kept coming from the BCCI boss was, “I have done nothing wrong”.
Srinivasan spent most part of Saturday and early part of Sunday in meetings with, among others, former president Jagmohan Dalmiya, IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla and BCCI vice-president Arun Jaitley. There were rumours and whispers that he would have to climb down from his post. But he gave himself a clean chit, saying he has done nothing wrong. Several questions were fobbed off with the answer “I have done nothing wrong.”
“I assure you, the BCCI will act without fear or favour to investigate and if players, franchises or owners have breached any rules, action will be taken,” he said. He even went to the length of saying that his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, who till now had been the face of ownership of Chennai Super Kings, was only a cricket enthusiast and not the principal owner of CSK.
Perhaps, Srinivasan forgot that there are millions of cricket enthusiasts in India who would give and arm and a leg to sit along with a champion team in their dugout, attend IPL auctions sitting at the bidding table meant for owners and have easy access to star players. Asked questions about how Meiyappan had such access, he seemed visibly uncomfortable and said the BCCI will set up a committee to probe the issue and their findings will give all answers.
Over to the panel...
The committee will comprise Arun Jaitley, Rajeev Shukla, Sanjay Jagdale, Ajay Shirke and Ravi Shastri and one independent member. He iterated that he will have no say in the appointment of the independent member and will distance himself from the inquiries and “the probe will be fair and without any prejudice”.
He had no explanation to give as to why he should not take moral responsibility though his son-in-law and the team owned by his company India Cements are under the scanner. BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale was a silent spectator on the dais, as were many BCCI top guns who were present during the press conference.
Their presence, it seemed, was a show of support and strength for the BCCI chief. In their presence he declared that he had not been asked by anybody on the board to step down. He squarely blamed the media for baying for his blood. “I will not be railroaded, pushed and threatened to quit,” he maintained.