Sourav Ganguly to take over, but what lies ahead in this new drama?

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October 13, 2019. A group of people in Indian cricket administration sat together in what could possibly be for the tussle for power. Even though the electoral roll had already had Sourav Ganguly and Mohammed Azzaruddin’s name on it, it was widely gossiped that Brijesh Patel could take the cake.

For anyone who has followed the wrestle of power in Indian cricket with good measure, this was a revealing day and had kept them hooked to their phone, waiting for the eventual list of nominees for the October 23 election to be made public. The apex council is going to be formed, in times of Lodha recommendations, this was going to be the path-breaking BCCI election of all-time, or at least, in recent times.

To understand the understated importance of this election, it is prudent to go back to January 2, 2017, when board president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke were dismissed from their positions by the court. The order was the culmination of a long-standing impasse between the BCCI and the Lodha Committee as the board had resisted implementing the majority of the recommendations despite being told to do so by a Supreme Court order on July 18, 2016.

The power structure got a new curriculum to be abided by, thanks to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators, who had the task of getting the house in order before the next election. That the election came to pass as late as October 2019, how all the wrigglings have affected the BCCI massively has become the major talk of the town. However, now that the board has a new president in the form of Sourav Ganguly, there is a massive reason to cheer for, but the preceding events that transpired before October 13 had wrapped the truth in cotton wool, for the time being. 

For the basic understanding of the purpose, Jay Shah and Arun Dhumal - set to be the new BCCI secretary and treasurer aside - daughter of N Srinivasan Rupa Gurunath has taken over the role of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) president, while Jaydev Shah and Himanshu Shah, former Saurashtra boss Niranjan Shah’s son and nephew respectively, have taken over the role of president and secretary of the SCA in the process.

While Chirayu Amin has made his son Pranav Amin the Baroda Cricket Association president, former BCCI secretary Late Jaywant Lele’s son Ajit Lele is the new secretary of the association. Even in Ganguly’s own zone, Ashirbad Behera’s ruling is set to continue thanks to Sanjay Behera’s elevation to the post of Odisha Cricket Association secretary and there is no reason to believe that the old guard would move away. Then, what does the appointment of Ganguly - for 10 months - would mean for Indian cricket?

On the same night, as Indian Express reported, Ganguly was not even certainty as he had himself told to the media that Brijesh Patel was the most likely candidate for the role. However, it was a united front, with old rivals coming in on the board, thanks to Union Home Minister and former Gujarat Cricket Association president Amit Shah, a middle ground was reached almost at 11 PM on Sunday night. It was decided that Brijesh Patel, former player turned administrator, who has done some wonderful work with Karnataka State Cricket Association, would be given the role of IPL chairman while Ganguly would complete his tenure of 10 months as BCCI president, which would not only allow BCCI some credibility but also a popular figure in front to bring the house in order.

It was typical of a political scenario in the country that often resulted in a puppet head being in the dummy power, with the original power lying somewhere else. But Ganguly is no puppet. From years of experience as CAB president and someone who is smart enough to understand cricket politics, it would be unwise of anyone to write him off until the time he is in power. However, this 10 months might help Jay Shah and Arun Dhumal to settle in Indian cricketing landscape, and like Thakur replacing Manohar in the past as the BCCI president, Shah might elevate to the position of president. As we have seen, it is always the people with backing from the Union Government that takes the cake in BCCI. Sharad Pawar, N Srinivasan, and now, Jay Shah. 

That Srinivasan, an unmatched player when it comes to BCCI’s internal game, ceded to the fact that two of Thakur’s backings Dhumal and Shah would take the two other important positions in the Apex Council also puts the case in a spot. By keeping his follower, Patel in power for the IPL role, a position that he tricked to give Ranjib Biswal in the past to go 1-0 up over Anurag Thakur in 2013, might be another secret move by Srinivasan to regain control.

Power is a huge denominator in BCCI and with the 2021 World Cup set to be hosted, it might be one step up, or Srinivasan playing his card to send his daughter Rupa Gurunath, director of India Cements conglomerate, to the BCCI top post to fuel his own ambitions. If that would go on in a linear way and Ganguly, in fact as it is reported, steps into Bengal politics in 2021 Assembly election, things might take an interesting turn as far as Indian cricket is concerned. For the time being though, it is the Royal Bengal Tiger in charge and everything seems to have fallen in place. However, has it really been? Well, your guess is as good as mine.

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