NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: It could well be the beginning of the end for N Srinivasan. Finally, a pressure group within the BCCI rose to take on the defiant administrator and show him his place; it not only stopped him from returning as board president and destroying the body's credibility even more, but, in all likelihood, also scuppered his bid to seek a one-year extension at next month's annual general meeting.
The drama that unfolded on Friday resembled a game of chess with the opposition making all the right moves to counter Srinivasan, who seemed determined to return to the hot seat. It was apparent the Chennai strongman would face strong opposition from a clutch of working committee members for the shoddy manner in which the BCCI probe panel had been constituted. He came prepared, but the endgame presented itself rather early when Srinivasan discovered that the working committee meet he was keen to chair to announce his 'return' had been summoned unconstitutionally.
Once it became clear that BCCI's interim office-bearers had bungled by calling Friday's WC meeting without giving the members proper notice (14 days for routine meetings and 3 days for an emergent one) or a specific agenda, Srinivasan realized the pitfalls of chairing it as its legality could be challenged in court.
By the afternoon, rumours were afloat that the notice for the WC meeting had been deliberately botched, to stall Srinivasan's plans to return to the hot seat.
Whether true or not, it allowed Srinivasan to sense the mood of his colleagues, and also see the writing on the wall. In the end, he shunned confrontation and meekly agreed to go back into his 'self-imposed' exile, leaving the likes of Jagmohan Dalmiya, Sanjay Patel and Ravi Savant in charge of the BCCI.
The matter was 'settled' at the IPL Governing Council meeting itself, where most of the talking was done by BCCI's senior vice-president Arun Jaitley, even though Rajeev Shukla was in the chair. Srinivasan was quick to beat a hasty retreat when he sensed the sentiment and recused himself from the GC meeting, leaving the floor entirely to Jaitley.
The BJP leader, who is also a legal luminary, pointed out the lack of clarity in the Bombay high court's verdict, especially its silence on the probe panel's report/findings. The high court's indictment is largely based on BCCI's failure to include a single member from the IPL Ethics Committee after Sanjay Jadgale, the former secretary, withdrew from what was originally a three-member probe panel.
After raising several points pertaining to this loophole, Jaitley laid down the legal options before the members, who saw merit in his suggestion of moving a special leave petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court. Once he mustered a consensus, Srinivasan, Dalmiya and other WC members were invited in and briefed about the decision.
BCCI's legal eagles are optimistic about making their point before the highest court of the land, outlining that the cricket body had amended the clause pertaining to the mandatory inclusion of an IPL ethics committee member on its probe panel, and as such there had been no violation of its constitution.
While Srinivasan is hoping to get some much-needed relief from the Supreme Court on this count, he will be wary of the outcome of A C Muttiah's petition pending before the same court on the conflict-of-interest issue that stems from his ownership of the IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings.
Only if he manages to clear these legal hurdles in the next six weeks can he hope to return from exile and seek a fresh one-year term at the BCCI elections, slated for the last week of September. Any further delay or setback would mean the end of his controversial two-year rein in the Indian cricket administration's highest seat of power.