BCCI president Anurag Thakur says the Societies Act doesn’t allow him to implement constitutional reforms without two-thirds of the members agreeing with the changes. He wants the Supreme Court judges to hear their problems one last time. Excerpts from an interview:
BCCI seems to be playing the ‘who blinks first’ game. By delaying the implementation of reforms, you want the courts to order constitutional changes. In case it happens, it will be seen as undermining an autonomous body.
Let me ask a very fundamental question. The BCCI is governed by the Tamil Nadu Societies Act, and as per that, you can make an amendment to the constitution with a three-fourth majority. For that, we can only invite the members to meet and adopt (the Lodha recommendations). We have done that. Now the only issue is, it is up to the members what are the amendments, according to the TN Societies Act, which they can or can’t adopt. I can’t force them, I can just facilitate, which I did. They have adopted various recommendations, even something like having a Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) member in the apex body. No one from the media highlighted that the BCCI had agreed to have a nominee of the CAG despite the fact that we don’t take a single penny from the government. Why should you have CAG? We don’t take any money from government. Societies Act doesn’t allow you to do that.
But the BCCI hasn’t adopted the three main structural changes: cooling-off period, curtailed tenure and one-state-one-vote.
How can you compare Mumbai with other organisations? One has given 30 to 40 international players and won the Ranji Trophy 44 times and it gets compared with a state that doesn’t even have 15 quality players. Is this good for Indian cricket? Is it fair on Mumbai, or say Baroda, who have given so much to Indian cricket when BCCI didn’t have money?
About the three-year cooling period. We get elected, we are not nominated. In many organisations, people are nominated from one position to another. Do they have a cooling-off period? They are nominated, we are elected, that’s the basic difference.
Players like Anil Kumble got elected and got into the system. Players like Brijesh Patel, Arshad Ayub, Shivlal Yadav, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anurag Thakur, (MP) Pandove, Chetan Chauhan got elected and got into the system. Nobody stopped them, there are still hundreds of players who are part of associations. It is a fake thing to say that give power to cricketers. Who is stopping them?
How do you see this BCCI defiance of the Supreme Court order? Isn’t this contempt of court?
Recently, there was a PIL filed in the Supreme Court to bring transparency in the judicial system. Was that accepted? What was the outcome? Every organisation needs transparency, was that accepted by the Supreme Court? They said there has to be a change in the law as per the law of the land. We are also dealing with the law of the land, which is the TN Societies Act. That’s why a three-fourth majority is needed to accept a reform, we can’t force members. If the members have any objections, the court must listen or the Lodha committee must look into it.
Fair or unfair is a different debate, but once the SC passes an order, doesn’t defying it mean contempt of court?
Nobody is defying, they have given us timelines and we have implemented those timelines (set by the Lodha committee). We have held the meeting, we have adopted recommendations and many which were not practical or BCCI is facing problems with, the members said they will go back to the court and explain what are the difficulties. Even the BCCI deserves justice, isn’t it?
But all these arguments have already taken place in the court during the hearing …
What is wrong in listening to them again and why can’t the committee look into it again?
There is talk of a court-appointed administrator, from within the BCCI, expected to take charge after Thursday’s hearing …
The Supreme Court is supreme, I have highest respect for them but we need to look at the autonomy of the BCCI too. I don’t want to comment on the administrator as I don’t see any reason for that. If the office-bearers have taken the matter to the members, they have done their duty.
Do you think this is a judicial over-reach?
I am nobody to say that, I have the highest respect for the judges. I think they will understand and recognise the good work done by the board and Team India’s achievements.
But do you think the judges are qualified to set rules like number of selectors needed to pick the national team and how they should all be Test players …
I have a lot of respect for Justice Lodha and other members and I am sure they have done their best in this report. But they need to understand that say someone like Rajendra Goel, he was a beautiful left-arm spinner who couldn’t play for the country as Bishan Singh Bedi was playing. Is it his inefficiency or is he not qualified to be a selector? I think he was equally good. There have been several cases in the past of players playing a couple of matches, doing well, scoring runs, and then being dropped. That was because there were players like Sachin, Sourav, Laxman and Dravid. They would occupy majority of the places in the team and others couldn’t play that number of matches. So can we take away the credibility of someone who has played 100 first-class matches and just a few ODIs? What matters is how committed you are, how transparent you are.
There is also the thing about selectors. You can pick selectors from the people who have applied. I can’t pick Laxman or Sanjay Manjrekar. They might have better things to do in life. They must have been away because of conflict of interest or other things. Mark Waugh does commentary and is a selector, here in India it’s called conflict of interest. These are the practical difficulties we need to open up to.
You say you are a positive person, what happens on October 6?
I am very optimistic.
But do you think there is a way out?
No, I personally feel Justice Lodha is a very respectable man and he will definitely look into this. Both BCCI and his committee will look into the interests of cricket. Yes, there is going to be a solution and we are ready for a dialogue. All they need to do is write an email or call us, we will be more than happy to discuss all the issues.
The Lodha report says several of their emails were unanswered …
Their secretary writes to us, our department also writes to them. I met them personally, Ajay Shirke met them personally. There is no question of disobeying anything.
They want you to follow the report in toto … Why will the committee bend?
There is a way out, there is nothing personal. These are very respected people and we are more than happy to speak to them, whenever they find time, at their convenience, we will make ourselves available.
There is this perception that BCCI want to got out fighting …
What fighting? We are not fighting anyone. All of us are here to take decisions for the betterment of Indian cricket.