New Delhi: IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla resigned from the post ahead of the BCCI's Working Committee meeting on Sunday which may see the exit of BCCI President N Srinivasan in the wake of scandals surrounding the IPL matches.
The resignation of Shukla, who is also a Union Minister, comes as a severe setback to the incumbent President who has already been isolated by his team of officials, two of whom --Secretary Sanjay Jagdale and Treasurer Ajay Shirke-- have already quit.
Besides the attack on Srinivasan and the demand for his resignation, questions were also raised over Shukla continuing in the post as IPL Chairman.
"I have decided to quit as IPL chairman. It is a decision which I was pondering over for some time. I think it is time to step down," Shukla told PTI.
Shukla said he took the decision in view of the recent controversies and in the interest of cricket. He also took into account the resignations of BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale and treasurer Ajay Shirke before taking the decision to step down.
"Sanjay Jagdale and Ajay Shirke resigned in the best interest of Indian cricket. I thought this is the right time," he said.
Shukla's resignation just a day ahead of the emergency working committee meeting in Chennai is bound to put more pressure on Srinivasan to quit the president's post.
N Srinivasan's exit as BCCI chief appeared imminent with senior Board members virtually forcing him to convene the Working Committee meeting in Chennai tomorrow in which he is likely to step down.
Backroom negotiations were on to find an honourable exit for the 68-year-old cricket administrator who is said to be setting some conditions before he resigns after his isolation in the wake of arrest of his son-in-law and CSK Team Principal Gurunath Maiyappan over betting charges.
The name of former BCCI President Shashank Manohar, a non-controversial figure whom Srinivasan had succeeded two years ago, is doing the rounds to fill the gap as interim President.
The possibility of regular elections in September cannot be ruled out when the term of Srinivasan would have ended.
Now that the endgame is near for him, Srinivsan is said to be asking for acceptance of three demands, including his reinstatement if he comes out clean after the probe in Gurunath's case, that he should represent India in ICC meetings and that secretary Sanjay Jagdale and Treasurer Ajay Shirke should not be in the new panel as they had "ditched" him.
But Board sources said members were not in a position to accept his conditions, especially the one relating to Jagdale and Shirke on the ground that they have not done any wrong and the next President had all the discretion to reject their resignations.
However, the demand that he should be allowed to represent BCCI in ICC meetings could be considered as a concession to him.
As pressure mounted on him to quit, the BCCI has advanced the Working Committee meeting which Srinivasan had planned to convene next Saturday.
"An Emergent meeting of the Working Committee of the BCCI will be held at 2:30 pm on Sunday, 2 June 2013, at the Park Sheraton, Chennai," BCCI Joint Secretary Anurag Thakur said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, Vice-President Arun Jaitley and Thakur asked reporters to wait for a "significant" development in a day.
In an indication that the resignation might come tomorrow, IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla said "some announcement is likely to be made. Wait for a day".
The under-fire Srinivasan's adamant stand of sticking to the post of BCCI President despite the damaging scam last night prompted Board Treasurer Ajay Shirke and Secretary Sanjay Jagdale to resign in protest. At least three Vice Presidents stepped up pressure by threatening to quit if Srinivasan did not agree to make way.
The crisis in the BCCI deepened with every passing day after Srinivasan's son-in-law and Chennai Super Kings Team Principal Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested for alleged involvement in betting.
Srinivasan, whose company India Cements owns CSK, refused to resign despite repeated calls for his ouster, insisting that he did no wrong.
He, however, convened an Emergency Working Committee meeting on June 8 hours after information spilled out that the ICC had warned Meiyappan to keep away from bookies at the start of IPL.
Thakur had reiterated this morning that Srinivasan should resign in the interest of fairness.
"He should step aside for a transparent and fair probe," he said.
A distressed Board Vice President Niranjan Shah said the scandal has become increasingly "disgraceful" but stopped short of demanding Srinivasan's resignation.
"It is much regrettable and distressing that the situation is getting aggravated in increasingly disgraceful manner...the matter pertaining resignation of BCCI's president Mr. Srinivasan should rather be a matter between himself and the rules and regulations of the Board," Shah said in a statement.
The other important issue that will come up for discussion at the meeting is the status of the three-member probe panel as one of members -- Jagdale has already resigned from his post.
Whether a new member will be added with two retired judges from Tamil Nadu or a fresh panel will be formed will be discussed.