Aditya Verma, the man whose petition in court resulted in recommendation for sweeping reforms in Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the ouster of a president, is a bitter man. His fight has changed, his friends have changed and so has his address in Delhi.
Last week when he was in Delhi, Verma stayed at the Haryana Bhawan, in a spartan room which was booked for him by a secretary of the state government. When Verma enjoyed the backing of the well-heeled, he frequented a five-star hotel in central Delhi during trips to the capital for court hearings.
With his friends, including top officials of the BCCI, turning their back on him, Verma has a different fight on his hands now — recognition for the Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), of which he is the secretary.
Verma has been a regular at ongoing court hearings, but this week he will not be at the Supreme Court. He is in Patna conducting a 40-over tournament in memory of his father. Cricket matches like the ongoing tournament in the state capital, Verma says, are essential for the CAB to stake claim.
At the last annual general body meeting of the BCCI another faction from the state, the Bihar Cricket Association was invited. With recognition for the CAB remaining a distant dream, Verma today feels betrayed. He believes shots were fired from his shoulder by officials who occupy posts currently in the BCCI when N Srinivasan was in power.
“Once Srinivasan was dealt with by the court, people have ditched me and my association,” Verma says without masking his disappointment.
Among those Verma says were his backers are current BCCI president Shashank Manohar and its secretary Anurag Thakur, both of whom he claims were in touch with him till recently. Niranjan Shah, the Saurashtra Cricket Association secretary, Verma says, would call him up to know the latest court developments.
“Before every hearing, I would send Shashank documents. He would give me legal advice. Anurag Thakur would give me moral support. He would call me to his house and encourage me in my fight. Niranjan Shah used to call me from abroad to check what is happening in court,” Verma says.
According to Verma, his relationship with BCCI officials soured when they realised that he would raise uncomfortable questions with regard to tenure of officials, in line with the Lodha Committee recommendations.
“I am questioning why Anurag (Thakur) should run Himachal cricket for 15 years, why should Niranjan Shah run Saurashtra for 20 plus years and CK Khanna remain in the Delhi cricket association for so many years. These officials feel that I am an easy target, so they are trying to keep me out because I speak the truth. They don’t want someone like me to head a state association,” Verma adds.
The unrecognised CAB secretary’s critics say he was a front-man propped up by those who had an axe to grind with Srinivasan. Verma was relatively unknown, but managed to get top lawyers to represent the CAB in courts, including Nalini Chidambaram and Harish Salve.
Reports last year citing leaked emails indicated that former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi was paying legal fees for lawyers of the CAB and also for Verma’s travel and stay.
Verma though has a different story to tell. “IS Bindra and Sharad Pawar would organise my stay. But I did not take any money from anyone. I was only fighting to clean the system. There were other people who got me air tickets.”
Pawar is the president of the Mumbai Cricket Association and Bindra is the chairman of the Punjab Cricket Association.
Modi remains someone who Verma has a cordial relationship with but the CAB secretary denies having taken money to be a proxy for the former IPL commissioner.
“Lalit Modi gave me moral support during my fight against corruption in the IPL and BCCI. But he did not pay me money,” Verma says.
Verma also claims that the late Jagmohan Dalmiya, in his capacity as BCCI president, had promised to give the CAB recognition.
The irony of his current predicament leaves Verma despondent. He admits that he is running out of friends but says he is determined to ensure that the Lodha Committee recommendations are accepted by the BCCI and will continue to fight for recognition of the CAB.
“I am banned from entering the BCCI office. Earlier I used to go to the BCCI office in pura masti.”