Vinod Rai, the head of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) and also the ex-CAG, is positive that the order of the Court - to implement the Lodha recommendations - will be carried out in the next few months. Rai admits the road ahead is not going to be easy but at the same time, he insists that "it's an order of the country's highest court, so it's not a choice but a mandate".
After concluding yet another meeting of the CoA, Rai took time out to speak at length on a variety of topics concerning Indian cricket.
What are the difficulties that the CoA has faced so far?
The difficulties we are experiencing are far lesser than what we initially thought they are going to be. We are pretty confident that whatever is on the agenda as far as we are concerned, we'll be able to take care of that.
The CoA is working on implementation of reforms and the primary task is to get the state associations to agree to them. That has not been easy...
The Supreme Court has given a direction, a ruling, a verdict. Now, our job is to implement that verdict. We're trying to persuade state associations to accept the model constitution of the articles that they have been suggested. And all that we need to do is explain to them the reasonability of what the Supreme Court has advised.
The message being sent across is that everything is happening smoothly. But there are some serious roadblocks...
When I said things are progressing smoothly, I talked about the IPL, the conduct of the auctions. All the arrangements were taken care of. Please understand that we've been here only for 50 days so far. We've just put out the model constitution two days back. They've (associations) been around for 30, 40 years. You don't expect them to turn overnight and adopt something they're not familiar with.
Is there a chance that CoA will reach out to associations and try and collaborate?
We want to make an attempt to collaborate. But just because it is not suiting (associations), they cannot become a stumbling block in implementing a Supreme Court order.
Do some Lodha Panel recommendations need to be looked into again?
It is not the COA's remit to look into whether a certain recommendation (of the Lodha Committee) needs to be looked into with a fresh perspective. The CoA has been given a mandate by the country's highest court, which is to implement the reforms.
But the associations don't see it that way...
For every objective to be achieved, you got to do it in stages. At each stage, whatever "persuasive" powers need to be applied, we will apply. Experience tells us how to go about it. They've been there for so many years and suddenly they've been asked to go. They are not able to accept that. But at some point of time, they'll realise that it's the end of the road for them. And if they don't understand it, then they'll have to be made to understand in a language that they will understand. You cannot show defiance to the highest court in the land. Greater bodies, more authoritative people have tried to defy the Supreme Court and have failed.
The court could have been clearer in its order...
The court could've simply said last year itself that all state associations or functionaries are dissolved and that would've been the end of it but that's not for me to say. What I can sense here is that the (Court's) attempt has been to try and persuade them to see the writing on the wall. The Supreme Court has given a verdict and our job is not to interpret the verdict. Our job is to implement the verdict. In the process, whatever is done should eventually satisfy the norms of accountability, transparency and professionalism.
Does the CoA have a plan of action in place?
I can't tell you just now what way the CoA is going to react but what I can tell you is that the plan of action is very well defined.
Is there a deadline you'll have set for yourselves?
We'd like to have these things wrapped up as quickly as possible. Maybe by October or on the outside by December is more or less the timeline we have in place and I'm reasonably confident that we'll wrap this up in this time.
Can you once and for all clarify if the overall tenure is nine or nine plus nine years for BCCI administrators?
It is absolutely clear and we've issued a clarification on that. It is nine years.
Did you expect these stumbling blocks to come your way when you were appointed head of CoA?
I knew what to expect and I have not been disappointed. But let me add, these problems are very solvable. Our mandate was to run BCCI but the ICC was something that we had to look into. We had negotiations with the ICC. Our commitment is to the fact that despite the February 2016 SGM, where BCCI members agreed to the reduction in revenue, our attempt is to try and ensure that BCCI does not lose financially. We met up with Shashank Manohar. We felt that he being there as head of the ICC was advantageous to us, because he's also been a BCCI president. We had fruitful conversations with him. There needs to be a balance between what we are getting from the ICC what we deserve and contribute to world cricket.
BCCI complained against the Australian team and took back the complaint the next day. That didn't make sense...
The Australian press was jingoistic. Maybe we were too. After we put in the complaint, the Australians got in touch with us and had certain concerns. We asked them to back off. But to put it all in a nutshell, let me say this, in true spirit of the game, we decided not to press our complaints. I don't want to elaborate. Hopefully, in time, they will understand.