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Of wooing voters and poster power

CCI election battle hots up; members cast ballots today at prestigious SoBo club; current prez, contender speak out

In a first of sorts, a Cricket Club of India (CCI) contender for the South Mumbai club's elections on Friday and Saturday, October 14 & 15, is wooing the electorate by putting up a banner on Walkeshwar near the Gopi Birla School. Selvel Managing Director, Kekoo Nicholson is exhorting the swish club's membership base (approximately 7,000) to vote to make the CCI club, "world class", through the outdoor banner. Nicholson is challenging Sevanti Parikh for the club's presidency. Parikh has been CCI president for two years now and is contesting for a third term. 


To the banner born: The hoarding that Kekoo Nicholson has put up at
Walkeshwar Pic/Bipin Kokate


Poster
Says Nicholson, "I have finished my term with the Executive Committee (EC) and standing for re-election there. I am also contesting for the first time, for presidency."

When asked why he had put a banner at Walkeshwar to garner votes, Nicholson said, "Look at the hoarding carefully. Am I telling people to vote for me, specifically? All I am saying is vote to make CCI a world class club." Nicholson also says that factions against him, "have access to other mass media to champion their cause and this is my media, so I have a right to put up a hoarding, what is wrong with that?" The former snooker champion says that the club needs, "electoral reforms. The term of the president and EC should be more than one year, as by the time the president takes over and settles down, it is already three to six months. Constant shuffling of the committee is not good too."


Hooray: Mumbai Indians celebrate Virender Sehwag's wicket when
Mumbai Indians played against Delhi Dare Devils in an IPL T20 at CCI's
Brabourne Stadium in 2010


Gujaratis
Nicholson stresses that, "Fundamentals like appearance and hygiene of the club, need to be taken care of before moving on to other things. Other clubs look better than ours in certain aspects. I will also stress hugely on sport. I have brought snooker champs like Jimmy White to the club." Nicholson ends by saying that he is telling everybody to vote wisely, "I am not a traditional politician. I do not spend my time making Gujarati vote banks." When asked if he meant that Sevanti Parikh was making Gujarati vote banks, Nicholson denied
that he meant Parikh specifically, adding, "It could be anybody. Sevanti is my friend, we have worked
together."

Tranquility
Meanwhile, Sevanti Parikh, contesting for a third term as president laughs when told Nicholson had talked about Gujarati vote banks, though not specifically about him. He asks, "What Gujarati vote banks? I think there are only three Gujaratis in the current EC. There are more Marwaris, Parsis, Punjabis and Sindhis." Parikh says he took over, "at a time of tremendous tumult for the club. At first, all I wanted to do was to bring back comfort and happiness to members and restore tranquility to the club. That, I think has been achieved." When asked about infighting within the club and the EC he says, "Everybody has a different viewpoint, we need to get over that and work for the common good of the club." Parikh says that, "Even though I have spent two terms in office, there is so much more to be done, why three years, even a person who has spent 30 years in office will say so much needs to be done."


Facility fire: Sevanti Parikh (l) with the cricket team before the tour of
England last year


Facilities
Prime amongst Parikh's agenda is, "upgrading all facilities including sporting facilities because we need to create infrastructure for the club's growing member base especially with so many young people coming into the club."
  Parikh says he has not  wooed the electorate with SMS messages, emails, letters or phone calls asking them to vote for him. "If members want to elect me and recognise me for my work, then, they will, if they vote for somebody else, I have no problems. I will work with another president," he ends. 


Sport on: Ex-snooker champ Kekoo Nicholson says the accent will be
on sport


Slice of History
The CCI which houses the iconic Brabourne Stadium, is one of the city's most prestigious clubs with a member base of approximately 7,000 out of which 2,500 are expected to cast their votes for a new Executive Committee. The voting begins today (Friday), October 14 at the club at 6 pm after the club's Annual General Meeting (AGM). The voting goes on the entire Saturday (October 15) from 8 am to 6 pm.

More than two years ago, the CCI was embroiled in a huge controversy when the former CEO-secretary of the club, Kamaljeet 'Bonny' Rajpal had allegedly tried to commit suicide shooting himself in the mouth, with his revolver at his home, following sexual molestation charges. The Rajpal problem was the last straw for a club involved in a considerable amount of mud slinging and finger pointing. The club had been cleaved into factions earlier and there had been efforts to oust the late Raj Singh Dungarpur from the presidency of the club. The Dungarpur saga had hit the headlines. Dungarpur was also suspended for a few days after which he had made a triumphant return to the club in a car, with a cavalcade of mo-bikes following him and the club staff shouting, "CCI ka raja kaun? Raj bhai." All this was fodder for a controversy hungry press. The club had earned the dubious sobriquet of Controversial Club of India (CCI). Since a while now, the scandals seem to have died down and there has been a modicum of sobriety in the club.

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