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The BCCI-RCA power struggle: Will Lalit Modi's return to power spell doom for N Srinivasan?

The Reaper
2.18K   //    07 May 2014, 11:28 IST
Srinivasan Lalit Modi

N Srinivasan and Lalit Modi

The IPL giveth and the IPL taketh away.

Just ask N Srinivasan. Or better yet, Lalit Modi. Never mind not laying anymore eggs, his golden goose hissed, snapped and chased him out of the BCCI in spectacular fashion. N Srinivasan now finds himself in a similar situation, except he has the additional problem of Aditya Verma running around telling anybody that will listen that he should be stripped of whatever little power he has left.

The fact that Lalit Modi has managed to weasel his way back into a position of power despite being slapped with the PCB’s favourite kind of ban, a life ban, will bring him no solace at this point in time. The BCCI responded swiftly and comprehensively to the news that Modi was elected new Rajasthan Cricket Association President by taking another play out of the PCB playbook and suspending the Rajasthan Cricket Association.

The power struggle is well and truly on.

The fact that they can’t stand each other isn’t surprising. They are both shrewd, ambitious and more than capable of tossing anybody that impedes their progress to the wayside, overtly or with a Machiavellian wink. Revered and reviled in equal measure, these two have been on a collision course for a while now. It is not quite unstoppable force meets immovable object, but only because both could lay claim to being the immovable object.

Power is as alluring as it is intoxicating, there can be only one top dog. A man is often threatened by his likeness. N Srinivasan recognized as much and tried to bury Lalit Modi the first opportunity he got. That was back in 2010, when secret shares in franchises were all the vogue. Modi was grabbed by the seat of his trousers and tossed out, and banned from the BCCI for life for good measure.

The irony was palpable; the IPL was Modi’s Kerry Packer moment. He not only had a vision, but also picked it up and ran with it till he had built the BCCI a business model that gave them power and leverage the likes of which the cricketing world had never before seen. Modi would have scoffed at Jim Morrison’s assertion that they couldn’t get much higher; he was riding a tidal wave of power.

That is until it all went horribly wrong. His whole world came crashing down, but through sheer stubbornness and brazenness, he has dragged himself from the debris of what once was and is now hanging dangerously over N Srinivasan’s head, in much of the manner popularized by the Sword of Damocles.

As far as N Srinivasan is concerned, the timing couldn’t be worse if someone had turned back all the clocks in a clock factory.

The similarities between the two cases are striking.

The BCCI, and by extension Srinivasan, have the IPL to thank for the most part for their financial clout. He did pretty much as he pleased, secure in the knowledge that no board would have the temerity to stand up to the mighty BCCI. The IPL was the weapon of mass destruction that was going to facilitate the BCCI taking over the cricketing world.

As if that wasn’t enough, he also owned the Chennai Super Kings. Conscientious leader that he was, he didn’t want to be seen as someone who abused his power by bending the rules, so he went ahead and rewrote them, allowing him to continue as an administrator. On another note, I googled conflict of interest today and a picture of Mr. Srinivasan popped up. I wonder why.

He knew he had to nurture the IPL; perhaps he did too good a job of it, as he was swept up in an entirely new IPL controversy. The Supreme Court stepped in and suspended him as BCCI president to allow for a fair and unbiased investigation. No matter. He could still continue to represent the BCCI at ICC meetings.

Enter Aditya Verma.

The jury is still out on whether Aditya Verma is a well-meaning administrator who genuinely cares about the reputation of Indian cricket or if he is today’s version of a prospector who has struck gold only because it is the only place he has not yet dug up. Either way, he is fast moving from the fly in the ointment category to the more dangerous pain in the backside one as far as N Srinivasan is concerned. He has sought to have the erstwhile President removed as the BCCI’s ICC representative and has also emailed the ICC members questioning their silence on the same issue in a move that is as naive as it is well meaning.

In an act of symmetry that will have both Srinivasan and Modi rolling on the floor, in anguish and laughter, the hunted has become the hunter as parallels are drawn between both men’s volatile relationship with the IPL.

Four years on from his ouster, Lalit Modi is planning a coup, in a situation eerily similar to 2005 when N Srinivasan supported Sharad Pawar in booting out Jagmohan Dalmiya. The man who did so much to make sure that the closest Modi came to the BCCI was his tweets berating them, has not yet been backed into a corner, but may well be very soon. The vultures are circling.

There will be a battle for supremacy within the BCCI. It could be swift and sudden, or long and drawn out. It is too early to tell whether Modi will strategically pounce and snatch power or Srinivasan will fight him off with the ferocity of a tiger caught in a trap. A third party could take advantage of the ensuing melee and swoop in to assume control. It is open season at the BCCI.

When the music finally stops, some people are going to find themselves without chairs. But one ruthless man with no morals replacing another ruthless man with no morals as the head of the single most influential cricketing body in the world does not bode well for this great game. At a time when World Cricket needs strong leadership, the men who matter are running around like little boys in suits trying to one up each other.

In one of the many versions of the tale, Ali Baba locks the forty thieves in their cave along with their ill-gotten gains. It is a story that has great literal and metaphorical significance at this time of moral turpitude.

All it takes for evil to triumph is for righteous men to sit back and do nothing. There are many righteous men within the BCCI who have sat quiet for too long.

For world cricket, it may come down to one.

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