Family plot steers Board games

Telegraph India

Telegraph India

Author 2019-09-27 04:35:00

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If you can’t be king, be the kingmaker.

That seems to hold true for the elections to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The Justice RM Lodha committee-imposed contentious age cap of 70 years may have ruled out many old guards of the BCCI but that hasn’t weakened their ability to call the shots in the corridors of Indian cricket.

The ‘selection’ of Rupa Gurunath as president of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) in Chennai on Thursday underlines the fact that patriarch N. Srinivasan is determined to keep the power game running within the family.

Rupa, daughter of Srinivasan, 73, and wife of Gurunath Meiyappan, who was handed a life ban from all cricketing activities by the Supreme Court after being implicated in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal, is the first woman president of a state cricket association.

A full-time director at India Cements, the company owned by Srinivasan who once owned the Chennai Super Kings, this is Rupa’s first foray into cricket administration. Rupa ensured that the TNCA remained under the control of the Srinivasan family as has been the case for more than a decade.

Not just Rupa, Jaydev, son of former BCCI secretary and Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) president Niranjan Shah, has also followed in the footsteps of his illustrious father.

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The 36-year-old Jaydev is a former Saurashtra captain who retired from all forms of cricket last season, after scoring 5354 runs at an average of 29.91 in 120 first-class matches.

Niranjan Shah, however, dismissed talk of keeping the family flag flying.

“I don’t think he has followed in anyone’s footsteps. He has played cricket and has been a part of SCA from a young age and knows what is needed to be a good administrator,” Shah senior told The Telegraph.

“Let’s see how the new generation of administrators fare. They can be successful too.”

The dynasty and family rule has also extended to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA). Arun Dhumal, Anurag Thakur’s younger brother and son of former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, will take over as the president of HPCA, a position enjoyed by the Union minister for more than a decade.

“There is no democracy in the association though you cannot ignore Anurag’s contribution,” a former HPCA member said.

There have been allegations that all the 10 district associations have Thakur’s hand-picked voting members for more than two decades.

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The Cricket Association of Bengal also can’t be left out. President Sourav Ganguly’s uncle Debasish Ganguly is the new treasurer while brother Snehasish Ganguly is likely to be inducted into the Apex Council, the principal body of the BCCI tasked with its governance under the new constitution.

There are many who believe that the Rupas and the Jaydevs will be mere puppets with their fathers pulling the strings from behind the scenes.

“This will not be true. Rupa can work alone. She has trusted lieutenants in the TNCA who will guide her. She doesn’t need her father’s advice,” said a close confidant of Srinivasan.

Shah senior clarified it further. “I am not after any post. I don’t want to be part of any committee too. I’ve had my time and I’m not going to get involved any more,” the former SCA chief said.

It will be hard though to believe such rhetoric. The power and influence enjoyed by the Srinivasans and the Shahs will always pitchfork them into the limelight, intentionally or unintentionally.

Kingmaker Chanakya, after all, was equally, if not more, powerful than Chandragupta Maurya.

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