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Last Updated Wednesday July 26 2017 10:16 AM IST

Despite SC, top politicos trying to keep cricket under their thumbs

Sachidananda Murthy
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Anurag Thakur BCCI president and BJP leader Anurag Thakur (file photo)

After the apex court upheld most of the recommendations of the Lodha Committee on reforms in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), some top political figures are working overtime to retain their control over the national body and the state associations.

The BCCI was in the grip of politicians ranging from Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar to union finance minister Arun Jaitley for long.

BCCI president and BJP leader Anurag Thakur, BJP president Amit Shah, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah hold sway over various state associations.

Along with other leaders, they will have to implement the new code, which imposes conditions for those who want to become office-bearers.

The curbs on age will rule out elders like Pawar and Abdullah.

But Pawar and Jaitley, who hold sway over important factions, are keen to exercise their remote control.

The Lodha Committee appointed by the SC suggested sweeping changes in the membership, which means there will be one association representing Gujarat, instead of three. Bombay and rest of Maharashtra, which are two different associations, will again have a single vote, as will Hyderabad and Telangana.

Interestingly, the Narendra Modi government has kept off the cricketing imbroglio, leaving it for the BCCI, its affiliated associations, and the top court to sort out the matter.

While former sports minister Sarbanananda Sonowal was keen on a model bill to streamline the functioning of all sports bodies, his successor Vijay Goyal, a close associate of Jaitley, is pursuing a hands-off policy.

Goyal's line could have been prompted by the fact that Amit Shah would not have any issues to wield influence over the Gujarat Cricket Association, after the merger of Saurashtra and Baroda cricket associations.

International Cricket Council president Shashank Manohar is also reconciled to the loss of identity of the Vidarbha Cricket Association, which he had controlled for long.

Interestingly Delhi had emerged as the flash point of the controversies as Arvind Kejriwal government, goaded by DDCA dissidents and ex-cricketers Bishan Singh Bedi and Kirti Azad, had ordered a judicial inquiry against the state association.

But the inquiry by senior supreme court advocate Gopal Subramaniam never got underway as the lieutenant governor halted its proceedings.

But the Delhi High Court, shocked by the rot in the association, asked former judge Mukul Mudgal to directly conduct matches, ignoring the office bearers.

Mudgal was highly successful and now there is a clamor to give him a free hand to set the BCCI in order.

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