With the clock ticking down to October 22, the date for the BCCI elections, Committee of Administrators (COA) chairman Vinod Rai stressed that the recalcitrant state associations will have to fall in line and amend their constitutions according to the Supreme Court’s guidelines, else the cricket administrators of those states will not be part of the BCCI’s cricket community.
The seven non-compliant units are Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand. However, Rai believes that a “critical mass” is already in place for the process to go ahead.
“For any election, everybody says there should be at least 50 per cent of those present and voting. Which means, you need a critical mass. We have a critical mass today. So if I want to opt out of it, well you opt out. Why opt out? Because I say that look, I don’t conform to the Supreme Court directions or the Supreme Court-mandated constitution. I don’t want to follow it? You opt out. Fair enough,” Rai said while speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange Programme.
Apart from the 18 full member units that have amended their constitutions and registered them with the BCCI, there are 10 which are yet to submit the amended document – including major associations like Mumbai, Saurashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Hyderabad, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
“I sincerely feel that we will have in the realm of about 32,” Rai said when asked about the number of member units likely to participate in the October 22 elections.
One-state-one-vote, cooling-off period for office-bearers and barring those holding public office from positions in the BCCI or state associations were considered the three major issues on which consensus was difficult as far as the constitutional amendments were concerned, and Rai claimed that the CoA tried to achieve unanimity on these matters.
“Till October 2017, I tried to build consensus. I openly told them that ‘look, if you feel one-state-one-vote is rather unfair, we also feel the same, and we’ll take up this issue with the court also. Tell us which are the other issues which you want.’ A consensus could not be built up. Then we started the process (of drafting the constitution). Then the court came up with the direction one year back saying 92 IAs (interlocutory applications) have been filed, let the new amicus curiae (PS Narasimha) mediate on that.
He’s done that, he’s given his report. Yet, people have met him, what do we do? We have no option (other than going ahead with the election process),” Rai said, stressing that the panel had no intention to stay in their posts for any unnecessary period.
However, the CoA cannot take any punitive action against units that don’t make the required amendments in their constitutions, apart from keeping them out of the next dispensation that takes the helm after the elections.
“We can’t issue a sanction against them. Then he chooses not to be a member of the BCCI community. As good as that. See, a state election elects its nominee, that nominee becomes a part of the general body of the BCCI and he participates (in the election). If he is not compliant, he is not a part of the BCCI,” Rai said.
However, referring to some of the decisions taken by the CoA since it took charge of BCCI affairs in early 2017, the chairman made it clear that a distinction will be made between non-compliant state units and the players representing them.
“We have taken a policy decision that cricket will not suffer. Uttarakhand was formed 19 years back. But Uttarakhand as a state has not been given membership of the BCCI. Why? I don’t know. We granted Uttarakhand membership. The moment we took over, we constituted a consensus committee, we started making Uttarakhand play Ranji Trophy separately.
“So any state which is non-compliant, that state’s cricket association will be non-compliant, cricket will not suffer. BCCI will make them play cricket, just the way Rajasthan is playing (when the state association was suspended), Uttarakhand is playing, and Bihar was playing at one point of time,” he claimed.
Politicians to demit office
The reforms suggested by the Lodha committee, on whose basis the BCCI constitution was amended, had barred those holding public office from becoming office-bearers in the BCCI or its state units. However, union home minister Amit Shah and Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha Speaker CP Joshi are still heading the state associations of Gujarat and Rajasthan respectively. Delhi MLA Om Prakash Sharma is a member of the executive committee of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).
Rai said such office-bearers will have to step down at the next annual general meeting of their respective state unit.
“It’s a very valid legal issue. There are four-five of them. We addressed it and we went right up to the amicus also to check on this issue and we’re told that their tenure is till such time as the AGM is held. When the AGM is held, they will have to demit office, all these people who are holding public office. In fact, Mr Joshi will demit office tomorrow,” the CoA head added.