By Shantanu Guha Ray
Like his handset caller tune that rings Ekla cholo re, Aditya Verma, cricket’s biggest gadfly, has decided to turn a lone ranger in his pursuit to get recognition for his state, Bihar, from the BCCI.
Last year, Verma - backed by current BCCI president Shashank Manohar and fugitive cricket Czar Lalit Modi was training his guns on N Srinivasan for encouraging corruption in BCCI and neglecting Bihar.
This time, Verma will be fighting the current BCCI regime, firing darts at none other than Manohar and BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, blaming them for committing perjury in the Supreme Court by offering one set of explanation for Bihar’s non-inclusion, and doing exactly opposite of that claim during the crucial working committee meeting in Mumbai.
“BCCI has not turned the wrong right, I will fight,” Verma said in a interview with Firstpost at the Mumbai Police Gymkhana grounds.
Strangely, he has the law on his side. In two separate affidavits - one in February, 2014 and another in October, 2015 - two top BCCI officials have told the country’s apex court that the BCCI was troubled because of constant squabbling in Bihar Cricket Association (BCA), then promoted by former CM Laloo Prasad Yadav. In their petitions, Sanjay Patel (2014) and Thakur (2015) said how the board would even like the Supreme Court to push criminal charges on the state body which even mishandled a Rs 50 lakh grant.
But at the recent working committee meeting, the same BCCI admitted an official of the BCA, Mrityunjoy Tiwari, as an associate member of the world’s richest cricket board. Tiwari, interestingly, is the spokesperson of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), a powerful party in Bihar.
Verma says this is “preposterous” because by calling Tiwari and pushing his faction, the BCCI has messed up its marbles, ostensibly because the Supreme Court, on hearing the Lodha Committee reforms, had asked the BCCI to recognise demands from Verma’s Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB) to be inducted in the board as a member.
That did not happen. And in the recent working committee meeting, the board inducted Chhattisgarh as a full fledged member.
A livid Verma says he asked Manohar why was the BCA representative called but told by the BCCI president that Tiwari was invited because there was no objection from any board members. “I was told I am messing up my own case. What have I done to deserve this? It is because of my constant pressures and petitions, Indian cricket stands clean to a great extent, and now, I am being pushed in the dumps by those who I offered a pedestal to fight.”
Cricket cognoscenti feel Verma’s case could be the proverbial Achilles Heel for the world’s richest board, which has already got a severe warning from the Supreme Court on February 4, 2016, to accept the Lodha panel recommendations in its totality.
On March 3, 2016, the apex court’s special bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justic Fakir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifula will react to BCCI’s decision to fight out the recommendations and hear why the board feels it would difficult to implement everything recommended by the Lodha panel.
The BCCI is hoping that the court will modify the recommendations and take on board concerns by the board relating to registration of various state associations under provisions of Article 142 of the Indian Constitution.
BCCI could also delay the case, knowing Justice Kalifulla is due to retire on July 22, 2016. And then, backed with some of the country's biggest legal eagles, the board could start arguments afresh.
But as of now, all of it is a bit hypothetical, till the Supreme Court hears the case on March 3, 2016.
Verma is also on hope, and a bit of fear. What happens if the BCCI grants recognition to BCA and - like every time - ignores him and his body? BCCI officials are not talking, the answer must come from the country’s apex court.