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Sourav Ganguly’s conflict of interest: Ombudsman dials BCCI president

AP Shah has cited a complaint received from ‘Mr Niraj Gunde’ about ‘conflict of interest’ allegations against Sourav Ganguly.

Written by Bharat Sundaresan | Mumbai | Updated: January 14, 2016 1:27 pm
sourav-ganguly_pti-m Sourav Ganguly in the president of Cricket Association of Bengal and also a member of the IPL Governing Council. (Source: File)

THE raging conflict of interest issue regarding former India captain Sourav Ganguly has reached the doors of the BCCI’s ombudsman, AP Shah, who in turn has written to board president Shashank Manohar for his response. In a mail also addressed to BCCI game development general manager, Ratnakar Shetty, Shah has cited a complaint received from ‘Mr Niraj Gunde’ about ‘conflict of interest’ allegations against Ganguly.

“The Office of the Ombudsman has received an application from Mr Niraj Gunde (cc-ed) on 13.01.2016, making certain allegations regarding conflict of interest against Mr Sourav Ganguly, the President of the Cricket Association of Bengal and a member of the IPL Governing Council. A copy of the application, numbered Application No.1 of 2016, is attached,” writes the ombudsman in a mail accessed by The Indian Express.

Shah goes on to ask the BCCI bigwigs to provide a response by January 27, which is within two weeks. Incidentally, the ombudsman also requests Manohar and Shetty to help him out with Ganguly’s email ID so that he could issue ‘appropriate communication’ to him.

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Gunde’s complaint comes in the wake of the Lodha committee report that brought the ‘conflict of interest’ paradigm into the spotlight. In it they alluded to a number of illustrations, one of which mirrored the Ganguly issue.

“C is a member of the IPL governing council. The IPL enters into a contract with a new franchisee, the managing director of which is C’s partner in an independent commercial venture. C is hit by indirect conflict of interest,” read the report.

In his complaint, which is also in possession of this paper, Gunde-who is named as one of the 60-odd people that the Lodha committee corresponded with during their year-long meetings-reveals an alleged conflict between Ganguly and the new IPL franchise from Pune, which has been bought by Sanjiv Goenka’s RPG group. In it he refers to the ex-captain as an ‘administrator who is currently the President of Cricket Association of Bengal and also a member of the IPL governing council.’

“Atletico de Kolkata (commonly abbreviated as ATK) is an Indian Super League football franchise based in Kolkata. The team is owned by Kolkata Games & Sports Pvt. Ltd., which consists of Sourav Ganguly, Spanish La Liga club Atletico Madrid, alongside businessmen Harshvardhan Neotia, Sanjiv Goenka and Utsav Parekh. This means the RPG group are partners with Mr Sourav Ganguly in another commercial venture,” writes Gunde. He further adds that Ganguly had not disclosed the conflict when the RPG group bid and won the new Pune IPL franchise.

Incidentally, Manohar had been asked about the allegations about Ganguly when the two new franchises had been revealed in December, but he had categorically dismissed those claims. “I think a lot of people are not understanding what Conflict of Interest means,” Manohar had said.

But according to Gunde the conflict regarding Ganguly was a direct one.

“If you look at the Lodha report, conflict of interest is the most damaging aspect and they have clearly classified its various forms. They cited both direct and indirect forms of the malaise, and how you are culpable regardless of which way you are involved. I hope the ombudsman takes this seriously,” said Gunde. According to a senior BCCI official, the ombudsman is empowered with both deciding upon the seriousness of a complaint that comes his way and also in taking a final call on whether the conflict exists or not.

“It’s totally up to him what he dismisses and what he takes up for a hearing,” he said.

But with Shah having set a deadline for Manohar and Shetty to respond to the allegations against Ganguly, it’s clear that this is one case that he has taken seriously.

Administrators not to blame for BCCI mess: Pawar 

Mumbai: WHILE insisting that the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) wasn’t in favour of the many recommendations made by the Lodha committee on adminstrative and cricketing operations, president Sharad Pawar made it clear that administrators weren’t to be blamed for the judiciary to get involved in the BCCI’s clean-up operation.

“One thing is clear, administrators are not responsible for this situation,” he said following the MCA’s managing committee meeting, which was called for specifically to discuss the Lodha recommendations. Though he refused to disclose any of the recommendations that the committee had agreed or disagreed upon it’s obvious that one of the ones he was opposed to involved himself. If the Lodha suggestions be accepted, then Pawar, who turned 75 last year, would have to relinquish his position as the report states that the cut-off age to be a cricket administrator would be 70.

In a press release, PV Shetty, the MCA joint secretary, echoed the chief’s opinions.

“The Managing Committee met on Wednesday to deliberate on the recommendations of the Lodha Committee and decided to accept the recommendations for transparency and ethics,” it said.

“There are certain clauses of administrative and cricketing operations for which the association shall forward its views to the BCCI as advised by them,” it added. ENS

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