On his first appearance as BCCI president, Shashank Manohar sat with a piece of paper listing pointers to his action list. “Just give me two months’ time,” he said. “In two months, all these things about which I have spoken will be implemented in full force.”
On Sunday, Manohar officially became Indian cricket’s most powerful person as he commenced his second term. Since the time the IPL spot-fixing scandal broke, he has been one of the most vocal administrators in favour of a clean-up and stood against former board chief N Srinivasan, whose Chennai Super Kings is one of the two teams that has been suspended for alleged violation of norms.
Manohar began his speech stressing the fact that the brand image of BCCI has taken a hit amongst the fans in the last few years and that board is keen to re-build its reputation. The Nagpur-based lawyer then set out a eleven-point agenda for the next two months.
It appeared that Manohar, and by extension the board, seemed to be seen as reforming the board before the Supreme Court-mandated Lodha committee submits their recommendation on changes to be made to the BCCI’s constitution to bring in reforms.
Conflict of interest was the first action point Manohar broached. He said that a neutral ombudsman would be appointed to act as an ethics officer of the board. The conflict of interest issue has been the root cause of all fights in the BCCI and Manohar said that it will be tackled within a month.
“The ethics officer would be independent of this board and would look into the complaints as with regards to conflict of interest of the administrators, players or the staff,” he said.
Manohar said the board will seek the help of official investigative agencies to curb corruption. “We would like to meet the government officials to work out if we can get certain investigative agencies to work on this. Because the board doesn’t have any investigative powers… our hands are tied.”
The new president also said that the money flowing to the various cricket associations will be carefully monitored to ensure accountability. While the associations are audited by their auditors, Manohar informed the BCCI will get these associations’ audited report vetted by an independent auditor. “The board would also be empowered to take action in case it finds that the money, which has been given to the state association, is not being properly utilised,” he said.
To give importance to transparency, the BCCI will put up board’s constitution on their website and make public any expenditure of over Rs 25 lakh.
The BCCI is keen to start activities at National Cricket Academy (NCA) again, whose activities are “not up to the mark”, Manohar said. “We would see to it that NCA functions round the year so that cricketing talent is developed in this country. Today, we are short of the second line. There are no spinners in this country,” he added.
In a move to lift women’s cricket, Manohar said they will enter into annual contracts with the players like for the men’s team.
In a major change in voting pattern to prove that BCCI is intent on functioning in a transparent manner, Manohar said he won’t abuse the chairman vote entrusted to the president. “There are two powers which are vested with me under the constitution. One, at the AGM, there is a chairman’s vote and a casting vote. I do not agree that the chairman should have a vote because the person should not be equated with any association. The casting vote is fine. Therefore I would assure you all that I would not exercise the right of the chairman’s vote at the AGM till the constitution is amended.”
Earlier, the chairman had the powers to decide which member can attend the meeting if any case of the related association was under dispute. Manohar said he would leave it the house to decide in such a scenario. Each association can only send three names to be included in various committees of the BCCI, he said.
Earlier, in order to appease everyone for votes, the board used to call almost an unlimited number of names to be included in various BCCI committees. However, this practice will be stopped. Two months isn’t a long wait and it will give us a fair picture of the second innings of Manohar.
* Attach a government investigative agency to look after on-field corruption issues as BCCI doesn’t have investigative powers.
* Appoint independent auditor to check how the state associations are spending the BCCI’s annual grants, which range from Rs 25-35 crore per association.
* Upload the BCCI constitution, balance sheet and expenditures of over and above the Rs 25 lakh on board’s website.
* Appointing Ombudsman to address all the conflict of interests issues pertaining to players, administrators
* All the old records and documents will be available at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai for the members to have a look whenever they feel necessary.
* Manohar to abstain from casting chairman’s vote during any BCCI elections till constitution is amended.
* Not to use president’s discretionary powers to resolve any dispute as majority’s view will be taken into account.