When former BCCI president Shashank Manohar stepped into the Cricket Centre here around noon on Sunday, he would have hoped to play a stellar role in cleaning up the mess engulfing Indian cricket.
Only a few days ago, he had said on record that "the board lacks leaders to take on N Srinivasan, who is shamelessly and stubbornly sticking to his chair". But about five hours later, his honest intentions weren't actually met with since other board members didn't tend to agree.
"It was nothing but a lot of eyewash. It was Manohar vs the rest." That's how an official who attended Sunday's emergent Working Committee meeting summed up the proceedings. To cut a long story short, Manohar's presence made no difference to Srinivasan's men.
The BCCI decided to propose to the Supreme Court a fresh three-member probe panel comprising RK Raghavan, former director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Justice (retd) JN Patel, former chief justice of the Calcutta High Court, and Ravi Shastri, former India skipper. While Raghavan — who probed the 2000 match-fixing scandal involving Mohammad Azharuddin and several others — and Patel were unanimous choices, there was dissent over the inclusion of Shastri, who is, by all accounts, a 'paid employee' of the BCCI.
Shockingly enough, a large majority of the members paid no heed to Manohar, who repeatedly reminded them that it would be prudent to pick someone from outside the board. Instead, they conveyed to him that Shastri would give up his BCCI commitments. An official who attended the meeting explained that the Bombay High Court, in its order last year, had ruled that the BCCI-appointed probe panel must include one member from the IPL's 'Code of Behaviour' committee.
BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel, IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal, Jharkhand State Cricket Association chief Amitabh Chaudhary, Shastri and Tripura Cricket Association Arindam Ganguly are part of this committee. This is to suggest that the BCCI went by the rulebook. Manohar's proposal to include former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee and additional solicitor general L Nageshwar Rao (who was part of the Mukul Mudgal Committee), was also rejected.
The ball is now in the court — literally and figuratively — of learned judges AK Patnaik and FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, who can accept or reject the BCCI's proposal. It may be recalled that the BCCI convened this meeting after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Srinivasan to allow him to resume office of the president. Respecting the functional autonomy of the board, the court said it didn't want to order a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or SIT probe into the issue.
Manohar, who was BCCI president from 2008-11, was co-opted into the executive board of the Vidarbha Cricket Association, which nominated him for Sunday's meeting. A vocal critic of Srinivasan and his policies, he couldn't evoke an equal and wise response from the other faction. In effect, Srinivasan's men continued to stick to their guns. The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, Srinivasan's home unit, was represented by its legal advisor, Bharat Raman. When an official raised the issue of Srinivasan representing India at the ICC, Raman suggested that the matter be left to the Supreme Court to decide.
The BCCI also decided to hold a special general body meeting in the second week of May. Apparently, the board will elect a member to replace Srinivasan on the disciplinary committee of the board. Shivlal Yadav and Rajeev Shukla are the other members on that committee.