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Jaitley warns BCCI against stubborn stance

CricketJaitley warns BCCI against stubborn stance

The prospect of the BCCI adopting the Lodha Committee recommendations is now stronger as Arun Jaitley, the Indian finance minister and an eminent lawyer, has asked the board to not confront Supreme Court, which approved the reforms last July.

On Saturday, in a meeting with members of the BCCI’s special committee – formed to identify the “critical points” in the implementation of the Supreme Court order – Jaitley asked them to focus on presenting the “three or four major” recommendations. The committee’s brief is to prepare a shortlist of recommendations the BCCI does not agree with, which can then be presented in the court with a request to reconsider them. The court is scheduled to reconvene on July 14 to discuss the issue.

Those who attended the Saturday meeting included Amitabh Choudhury (BCCI secretary), Anirudh Chaudhry (BCCI treasurer), Rajiv Shukla (head of the committee) and Jay Shah (one of the seven members of the committee). “He said that that the genuine points of difficulty, which cannot be more than three of four, can only be brought or submitted before the Supreme Court,” a board official privy to the meeting told ESPNcricinfo. “He said we should stick to those three or four recommendations, which the court also may understand. The other things should be dropped. If the quantum of the disagreement is too large, your points will not be considered.”

Although Jaitley is not directly involved with cricket anymore, his vast tenure as an administrator in the past (he was BCCI vice-president and president of the Delhi & District Cricket Association) combined with him being a political heavyweight has always made his views significant.

Past BCCI presidents like N Srinivasan, Shashank Manohar and Anurag Thakur have consulted Jaitley at various times in the last decade over cricketing matters. So it was no surprise that the BCCI committee felt it needed to seek out Jaitley’s suggestions.

According to the BCCI insider, the three major Lodha Committee recommendations that the committee had already shortlisted, which it wants the court to reconsider, were: one-state-one-vote, a three-man selection committee, and having a three-year cooling-off period for an office bearer after every term of three years.

In its first meeting, also held on Saturday morning, the committee debated the cooling-off period and felt that an office bearer should serve a nine-year term without any breaks. Even Jaitley, the BCCI insider said, agreed the cooling-off recommendation ought to be reconsidered by the court. “He said the tenure of nine years is good enough. Once you put a cap on the tenure (of nine years), what is the point putting a cooling-off period? It will become impractical. Suddenly you will have three or four office bearers starting with the new job without any background or experience.”

At the BCCI’s special general meeting last month, some of the BCCI state associations had strong reservations against the age-cap of 70 for an office bearer as prescribed by the Lodha Committee. But Jaitley did not find any fault with that recommendation. “He said that cap is good enough because that limit has been placed only on office bearers, not on nominees, representatives etc.”

The committee is likely to prune down the final list of recommendations for reconsideration at its next meeting, scheduled for July 7, in Mumbai. Those recommendations would then be presented at the BCCI SGM, which will be held before the court hearing on July 14.

The BCCI, the insider said, was “determined” to make progress on an issue that has been deliberated for a long time. On July 18 last year, the court signed off on the Lodha Committee recommendations and made it mandatory for the BCCI to adopt them. However the BCCI and the state associations were reluctant, forcing the court to appoint the Committee of Administrators (CoA) to implement the reforms. Although the CoA has attempted to create an environment, pathway and structure for both the BCCI and the states to adopt the reforms, the board has been steadfast in its opposition.

Jaitley has made it clear that the BCCI could pay a high price if it stuck to this approach. “His view was very, very clear. It is not just the finance minister of India or somebody who has been associated with cricket at the top level, but also one of the top lawyers of the country talking,” the BCCI insider said. “He knows how the court is likely to deal with the subject.”

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