‘Maverick, expert on legal issues’: Meet mystery man behind conflict of interest crisis in BCCI
FOR ALMOST three years now, a little-known cricket official from Indore has kept the BCCI’s Committee of Administrators (CoA) and Ethics Officer on their toes.
A life member of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA), 45-year-old media-shy businessman Sanjeev Gupta has so far sent close to 400 emails to the CoA, most of which highlight cases of non-compliance within the BCCI and its affiliated units.
It was because of his complaint that Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman were found to be in breach of the conflict-of-interest clause, which was introduced in BCCI’s new constitution post-Lodha reforms.
Read | Did BCCI advice land Rahul Dravid in conflict-of-interest mess?
Gupta, a one-time university off-spinner, remains in constant touch with reporters. But he has steadfastly refused to be interviewed or even share his photograph. In one of his email complaints to the CoA — he shares most of them with the media — Gupta provides the reason for his campaign: “I do not have any personal vendetta against anyone, I have nothing to attain from anybody and nothing of mine is at stake. I do not have any vested interest, whatsoever. My only concern/ intent behind writing frequent complaint mails is for 100% implementation/ compliance of the Lodha reforms.”
Speaking to The Indian Express on condition of anonymity, a CoA member said: “He has memorised the entire BCCI Constitution. Ask him a clause and he will rattle it out with the page number. He keeps sending us emails. But one thing is certain, his complaints are always backed by facts.”
Gupta declined requests from The Indian Express for an interview. But at his base in Indore, he is seen as a maverick who is an authority on legal issues and the BCCI Constitution. Once close to former board secretary and MPCA administrator Sanjay Jagdale, he distanced himself from the cricket body due to differences with a few members. Insiders also point to an incident when Gupta was allegedly insulted by a few association members.
Many say that once the Lodha reforms were in place, he took it upon himself to see that the cricket set-up gets a complete overhaul. In fact, soon after the CoA took charge in the BCCI, Gupta sent an email alleging that his state association violated the Supreme Court’s order on implementing the reform measures.
Gupta first made it to the mainstream news cycle when BCCI Ethics Officer Justice (retd) D K Jain initiated a hearing based on his complaint against Tendulkar and Laxman. Gupta had argued that the former cricketers were holding two positions simultaneously, which went against Lodha’s ‘one-man-one-post’ clause. Even before the order became public, Tendulkar recused himself from the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC).
It was at this hearing, it is learnt, that Gupta impressed everyone with his knowledge of the Constitution. After the arguments were over, a top BCCI official walked up to him and asked for his number. “He is such an expert on the board’s Constitution. He left everyone stunned with his grasp of the intricacies,” the official said. It’s also learnt that one of the players against whom he had complained told a friend: “If Gupta complains against you, there is no chance to escape.”
In his emails, Gupta has raised objections on a range of issues: The appointment of former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar as Cricket Improvement Chief for Mumbai, former BCCI employee Ratnakar Shetty’s role as administrator of Hyderabad Cricket Association, Gautam Gambhir’s role in DDCA after becoming an MP and the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association’s election process, to name a few.
He has even slammed the CoA and BCCI for not making Ethics Officer Jain’s order on Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman public.
Having taken on the high and mighty, Gupta has faced some backlash, too. A few days ago, a Delhi advocate sent a legal notice to Gupta alleging procedural indiscretion involving his purported communication with the Supreme Court Registrar. How did Gupta react? With another mail: “Let the world throw all sorts of dirt at me to stop me in said endeavor but my intentions are as pure as sandalwood for 100% compliance & for this only I am giving 24×7 for last 3 years.”
Very soon, there was a fresh email from Gupta. On his radar was Kapil Dev, the cricket legend who is now a commentator, the owner of a floodlight company, and a member of the Indian Cricketers Association and the CAC. On Tuesday, Dev resigned from the CAC.