New Delhi: A key cabinet minister is central to backroom talks currently dominating the mind and space of the world's richest cricket board which is trying to find a worthy successor to Jagmohan Dalmiya.
BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur with former Board presidents Shashank Manohar (left) and Sharad Pawar (right) at Dalmiya's funeral. Pic/PTI
Dalmiya died on Sunday night but age, health and stress had reduced the BCCI top man to a mere arm chair president. There were times when the veteran cricket administrator had to be guided at crucial meetings by his son, Abhishek, and BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley, a key member of the BCCI, had visited Dalmiya last month and advised the ailing president to step down. The BCCI — internally — had even agreed to make Dalmiya chairman emeritus or life patron. But Dalmiya was keen to retire after the ICC T20 World Cup, the finals of which were to be hosted in Kolkata's Eden Gardens, Dalmiya's turf.
Jaitley, it is reliably learnt, has urged Thakur, who has been spearheading all BCCI meetings for nearly a year, to be careful about the "image of the person" selected. For almost two years, the BCCI's image has been sullied because of cricketers and owners of franchisees being embroiled in alleged spot-fixing and illegal betting charges in the Indian Premier League, the world's richest cricket league.
A special general meeting, as per BCCI rules, must be convened to decide the future course of action. As things stand, Thakur will run the show till the board gets to hear "a final word" from the Supreme Court relating to former BCCI president N Srinivasan and his participation in BCCI meetings as president of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA).
Shirke, Shukla in race?
BCCI sources claim IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla and former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke are strong contenders for the post, the last name being favourably considered because of his proximity with the BCCI top brass. Another section of BCCI favours Shashank Manohar, the former president.
"Jaitley wants someone who will have a grip on the game and its management in India, and also drive India's interests in the ICC," said a BCCI source. But the game does not end here. Holding key to the proceedings of the Special General Meeting (SGM) would be the SGM chairman, Gautam Roy of Assam. Thakur, who visited Kolkata to attend Dalmiya's funeral, refused comment on the subject. After all, he is not the man with the last word in the world's richest cricket board.