By Lalit K. Modi
The troubled BCCI has been keeping ominously quiet about an apparent point for discussion at their meeting in Chennai on Saturday. In recent weeks, there has been news of unease from commercial partners, financial issues with IPL franchises and a general malaise surrounding the IPL product itself which they show little or no signs of attacking.
Yet, according to media reports, senior officials who are charged with the responsibity of safeguarding and improving the game across the nation are quietly trying to change the constitution in order to allow the President, and potentially other senior office bearers, to stay in office for even longer. On current evidence, it is a recipe for more of the same leadership from self-important officials on a longer term basis.
At the moment, the President is elected for a maximum three-year term and is selected from members in one of the five zones across the country who each provide the President on a rotational basis. Re-election for a second term wouldn't of course be possible with the rotation policy in place, so the suggestion is that the rule is scheduled to be scrapped. It appears then, that we're staring down the barrel of no rotation and, as a consequence, the opportunity for the President of the BCCI to stay in office for 6 years.
The constitution obliges the BCCI to remain democratic and representative under all circumstances. But if this change is approved, the removal of rotation and the new selection policy would be undemocratic and unrepresentative. It is a degrading statement of intent which will marginalise zones and districts just at a time when they should be embraced more than ever before. There appears to be an attempt to retain control and safeguard positions without consideration of the wider effect.
Supporters say it will allow officials to be elected on merit not geography but in reality it all means little chance of new ideas or fresh enthusiasm and more chance of a retention of power. If they were all doing a great job, I would have no objection, but look at the recent history and judge for yourself. In my view, they are using their current powers to reward themselves for mediocre leadership.
Deep down they must know that such a move would be unpopular because those in the middle of it all have kept quiet. Media stories on the subject have been filled by information from "insiders" or "senior officials." These are people, I suspect, who are unhappy with the possible change and want the public to know what's going on behind closed doors. Why, I wonder, are those on the other side of that door being so coy?
There may be an underlying a groundswell of objection as even those not directly affected have made noises with a representative based in the Central Region expressing reservations in a letter to Arun Jaitely which has caught the media's attention. But sadly, I can't believe there will be enough opposition to stop it happening, although people should be asking some stern questions.
The next election takes place next year to allow any successful candidate to serve a year as President-elect. This time around, rotation would mean it should be the turn of the East Zone but the alarming level of disdain for the process is illustrated by one, un-named official who has been quoted as saying; "There are not many qualified people". So, under the proposed change it appears a nomination for President could be accepted from outside the concerned zone as long as its was agreed by two of its member associations. With the extended term option invoked, it also means the current President could, of course, be re-elected.
It's reported that current President Mr N. Srinivasan recently had a meeting with two close allies, Shashank Manohar, an experienced lawyer well versed in the BCCI constitution and Jagmahan Dalmiya. Mr. Dalmiya is President of the Cricket Association of Bengal and also the Kolkata based, National CrIcket Club. If that is true, it appears Mr. Srinivasan has had discussions with a man whose legal input would be important in ensuring a smooth constitutional change and another who just happens to have the voting power of two member associations in the East Zone.
Reports suggest the changes to the constitution could become a reality before the next election. As they say in the USA, 'go figure.'