Conflict of interest looms large over Sourav Ganguly as former India captain pads up for new innings

All eyes on Sanjeev Gupta, life member, Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association! Even as Sourav Ganguly, former India captain and Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president gets set to pad up for a bigger innings – president of BCCI, it will be the conflict of interest clause in Lodha reforms that will define the fall of the dice.

File image of Sourav Ganguly. Reuters

File image of Sourav Ganguly. Reuters

Gupta, who is in his mid-40s, has, in a very short time become a terror for India’s cricketing fraternity, especially administrators. He has fired 400 emails with the CoA and it is his complaints that have found so many, including Sachin Tendulkar, Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid in the crosshair of conflict issues.

“I do not have any personal vendetta against anyone, I have nothing to attain from anybody and nothing of mine is at stake. I do not have any vested interest, whatsoever. My only intent behind writing frequent complaint mails is for 100 percent compliance of the Lodha reforms,” he said recently.

It is this zeal of his that could derail Ganguly becoming president, unless, of course, the CAB president resigns from all conflicted positions before filing his nomination with BCCI electoral officer N Gopalaswami, the former Chief Election Commissioner of India. The deadline for filing is 5pm, but all in the fray are expected to file by 3pm.

Meanwhile, Gupta has early this morning shot off an email asking the ethics officer DK Jain, former SC judge, to take immediate cognisance of two of his “precise complaints” filed on 4 October "against Ganguly and Rajat Sharma for breaching Rule 38 (4) holding two posts at a time.

1.Office bearer of a member – rule 38 (4(m)
2.Administrator/Office-bearer – rule 38 (4) (f) to be read with rule 1 (A) (a).
Also in breach of your order 16, June 2019 para 32,” he said in the mail copied to the three-member CoA.

The para 32 in the order by DK Jain reads as follows:
“In the instant case, having regard to the aforenoted stand of Mr Ganguly, viz (i) that if it is found by the Ethics Officer that his presence in the CAC (Cricket Advisory Committee) has resulted in a “conflict of interest” situation, as envisaged in Rule 38 of the Rules, his Reply in these Complaints may be treated as his resignation there from immediate effect and (ii) that his involvement with the IPL Franchise has come to an end in May 2019, I declare that in the present case the “Conflict of Interest” is tractable.

“Although it is trite law that the ignorance of the law is no excuse and, Mr Ganguly was obliged to disclose the requisite information as stipulated in Rule 38(2) of the Rules, but bearing in the mind the fact that the Rules have come into existence only after August 2018, I am inclined to give benefit of doubt to Mr Ganguly that perhaps he may not have realised that his occupying the said three posts did involve “Conflict of Interest”. Accordingly, I direct the BCCI to ensure that Mr Sourav Ganguly relinquishes his interests, which give rise to “Conflict of Interest” and does not continue to occupy more than one post as enumerated in Rule 38(4) of the Rules at any given point of time,” he wrote.

Sources say they expect Ganguly to quit from all the conflicting posts by 3pm, including his involvement with Delhi Capitals. However, if he is found to be in conflict, the post of president will lie vacant as there is no move (at the time of writing) to file a dummy candidate.

Apparently, if a dummy candidate is filed and Ganguly becomes Lodha compliant, then it would ensure that there is an election and BCCI wants to avoid such a scenario. However, if the post goes vacant, then according to Lodha reforms, elections should be held within 45 days.

There is no option for co-opting anybody in the Apex Council, unlike BCCI’s earlier practice with regard to sudden vacancies.

Interestingly, Ganguly will have only a 10-month ride as BCCI president as the Lodha-mandated cooling-off period of three years kicks in after that. There is speculation that Ganguly’s candidature was acceptable to Amit Shah, Union Home Minister and former president of the Gujarat Cricket Association, only after the ex-India skipper agreed to campaign for BJP in the forthcoming Bengal elections.

Meanwhile, Jay Shah, son of Amit Shah, will be BCCI secretary for only eight months as he too has to cool off after that. Thus Ganguly and Shah would be in the saddle for a very short time unless a new sports bill, overriding Lodha reforms, is tabled and approved by parliament.

Sources say that in the event of the sports bill not being in place by then, Brijesh Patel, currently tipped to become IPL Chairman, will take over as president when Ganguly cools off and the search for a new secretary would start afresh.

However, Anurag Thakur’s brother Arun Singh Thakur, a shoo-in for the treasurer’s post, would continue to complete his term.

Certainly, there are hectic behind-the-scenes activity going on, with former BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla too not willing to go out without a fight. The day’s events will set the ball rolling for the rest of the year. But sources say that an even more interesting aspect would be the choice of BCCI representative to ICC. That call would be made next month. Until then Monday evening is when the bells toll for many in BCCI’s set-up.

Click here to listen to Episode 2 of Yorked, where we discuss Sourav Ganguly's appointment as BCCI president with senior journalists Ayaz Memon and Gaurav Kalra.

Updated Date: October 14, 2019 21:55:22 IST

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