Kolkata: Sharp and smart chessboard moves have started in the BCCI to fill the slot left vacant by the death of board president Jagmohan Dalmiya, with the names of Sharad Pawar, Rajeev Shukla and Amitabh Choudhary doing the rounds as possible claimants.
As per the Board of Control for Cricket in India constitution, the interim president has to be chosen though a special general meeting in case of the death of the incumbent. The BCCI secretary (in this case Anurag Thakur) will have to announce the date of the SGM within 15 days of the death of the president (in this case, Dalmiya, who passed away on September 20), giving three weeks' notice to the affiliate units.
With the six east zone units of the BCCI now having their turn to field the candidates for the president's post, the contenders would have to get proposers (and not any seconder, as it is a by-election) to jump into the fray. If the candidate gets a proposer and is backed by the other five units, he would sail through.
While media reports have claimed that Pawar, now president of the Mumbai Cricket Association, has called it quits from the race for the big post, those who know him closely say the wily Maratha could not be written off.
A day after Dalmiya's death, Pawar attended his funeral, and then airdashed to Mumbai to hold parleys in Mumbai with his loyalists to gauge the emerging situation. Though he was now touring rural Maharashtra, it could well be that the shrewd former BCCI and ICC chief was playing a wait and watch game before taking the plunge.
However, Pawar could face difficulty in getting a proposer from East Zone, with CAB and National Cricket Club strongly opposed to him. The Odisha Cricket Association is controlled by loyalists of former BCCI boss N. Srinivasan, who had to quit following a Supreme Court directive to facilitate investigation into the 2013 Indian Premier League (IPL) betting and spot fixing scam.
Though Srinivasan is not in a position to throw his hat in the ring due to the apex court ruling, he could try to control the proceedings from behind the scene by fielding his confidant and Jharkhand State Cricket Association chief Choudhary. Being an east Zone affiliate, JSCA can propose BCCI joint secretary Choudhary's candidature for the president's post.
Tripura and Assam are till now fence-sitters, but the latter could decide to root for its president and present BCCI vice president Gautam Roy in the coming days. Though Roy has so far ruled out contesting for the BCCI president's slot citing his ministerial commitments in Assam, observers feel he may enter the fray in the coming days.
Current IPL chairman Shukla had wanted to fight the BCCI presidency earlier this year, but was forced to settle for the vice president's post later on.
"If Choudhary and Shukla contest, votes in the east zone could be divided," said a former BCCI office-bearer, now with an east Zone unit.