From Brijesh Patel to Sourav Ganguly: How negotiations for BCCI President turn tide in 11th hour
Until late on Sunday night, it was almost a certainty that Brijesh Patel would be the next president of the BCCI. Not only was he armed with ample administrative experience, having served in the Karnataka Cricket State Association for many a year, Patel also had the backing of N Srinivasan, the former BCCI president. But due to circumstances beyond both Patel’s and Srinivasan’s control, Sourav Ganguly—the former Indian cricket captain turned president of the Cricket Association of Bengal—became the unanimous choice for the post in an eleventh hour meeting (involving the future nominees and former BCCI bigwigs) that was steeped in drama.
This is how it unfolded.
“Discussions went on late over who to make the BCCI president and who to make the IPL Governing Council chairman between Ganguly and Patel,” said Rajiv Shukla, the former board vice-president. “The decision to make Ganguly the president was, however, unanimous in the end.” Even Ganguly was seemingly surprised at the turn of events, forcing him to say: “Till 10.30 pm last night even I was not even aware of this, till I was told.”
Shukla didn’t divulge details on the voting patterns, but it emerges from other officials who were also at the meeting on Sunday night that the presence of Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur, tilted the scales heavily in favour of Ganguly. Apart from most of the southern associations, some bodies from the west and north were reported to have initially sided with Srinivasan. But then, they all eventually agreed on Ganguly.
Thakur has little to do with cricket now. But as a former president of the board who has a keen dislike for the Committee of Administrators, he has taken an interest in shaping the future administration. Srinivasan doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Thakur on too many matters, but they do agree on their views on the CoA.
This is said to have helped them to temporarily join hands in choosing the next BCCI chief, what with the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) currently not being allowed to vote in the board elections due to their non-compliance of the new BCCI constitution.
Incidentally, Thakur’s brother—Arun Dhumal, HPCA’s incumbent president— filed his nomination for the BCCI treasurer’s post. “Thakur rushing to the meeting benefitted Ganguly immensely,” said an official who was part of the late night meeting. “Look, both the factions (Thakur’s and Srinivasan’s) were tired of the CoA and criticised the way cricket was being run in this country. They wanted to get rid of it at the earliest. Therefore, there was not much fight over who will contest for what.”
“Also, BCCI president and IPL Governing Council chairman are (Indian cricket’s) two top posts. Whatever happened, one would have got one, the other would have got the other.”
It is known that the IPL chairman’s post is largely a nominal one, and therefore much weaker than the BCCI president’s. The IPL chairman does little more than deal with IPL contracts. And in recent times, it was the CoA that had taken over most of the executive work.
The meeting on Sunday night with the state units extended until dinner before it was decided unanimously that Ganguly must be made president. “The former BCCI bigwigs didn’t want it to drag on,” the official said. “The old hands of the BCCI said, ‘Make Ganguly president and you (pointing at Patel) can become the IPL chairman’. It was more a selection, not an election. Some compromise had to happen.”
It is understood that Ganguly wasn’t going to settle for anything less than BCCI president, and to make that happen Thakur’s presence helped. However, Patel will in all likelihood take over once Ganguly enters his cooling-off period from cricket administration after August 2020.