Sharad Pawar and his panel members may have swept the Mumbai Cricket Association’s (MCA) polls by getting 15 out of the 17 seats in their favour, but their victory wasn’t as convincing as it looks on paper.
Dr Vijay Patil, head of the Cricket First panel, with the help of Shiv Sena’s backing and his own goodwill in the MCA went down fighting against Pawar, losing by just 34 votes.
The last time when there was a contest for the president’s post, the margin was 45 votes with Dilip Vengsarkar going down to the late Vilasrao Deshmukh in 2011.
Former India skipper Vengsarkar and BJP’s Mumbai chief Ashish Shelar were favourites for the two vicepresidential posts. However, it is learnt that major cross-voting took place for the Joint Secretaries’ posts. As a result, Dr Unmesh Khanvilkar of Cricket First emerged as a giant-killer, beating Ravi Savant, the Bal Mahaddalkar group head and former MCA chief, and his own group member Lalchand Rajput.
For the Managing Committee, at least four more members of the Cricket First group apart from former India batsman Pravin Amre would have made the cut as they languished between 145 to 160 votes. “One of the major reasons we (Cricket First group) lost was because no educational institutions supported us. The BJP government wielded their power here and it turned out to be the game-changer in the end,” lamented Nadim Memon, a prominent member of the Cricket First group who missed out on a Managing Committee berth by just two votes.
Earlier in the day, Memon spewed venom on his Facebook page: “Cricket is left with greedy people; all are vested-interest people, who want to make fast money in cricket; no respect left for sincere people, hard worker and cricketers. God save Mumbai cricket.”