Two decades after he led the Indian cricket team, Sourav Ganguly has climbed the next big step. On Monday, Ganguly with BCCI's secretary- elect Jay Shah and other nominated office-bearers, arrived at the BCCI office to file his nomination for the post of president, unopposed. The team assumes office on October 23. However, Ganguly’s march to world cricket’s most coveted seat was anything but a cakewalk.
His nomination came after a dramatic 24 hours of intriguing negotiations, phone calls from Delhi and an informal meeting at a Mumbai five-star hotel on Sunday night where Indian cricket’s most powerful faces came together to firm up strategy for the board elections on October 23.
With former BCCI president N Srinivasan throwing his weight behind another former player, Karnataka association’s Brijesh Patel, the house was divided initially over who would head the board. In contrast, it was smooth sailing for Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s son Jay Shah for the secretary’s post, and former Board president and MoS Finance Anurag Thakur’s brother Arun Dhumal for that of treasurer.
On Sunday, the power meeting that was to start at 4 pm was delayed as the Thakur brothers and Jay Shah visited the Siddhivinayak temple. By 7.30 pm, the state association representatives started to assemble. Till then, it was believed that Patel was favourite to be president. In the hotel lobby, Srinivasan’s men waited for the arrival of Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who had been part of the state association earlier and now heads the Badminton Association of India. The meeting was further pushed back as Sarma and Thakur attended an engagement ceremony in the hotel. Other top BJP politicians were, meanwhile, seen in the lobby.
Around 10.30 pm, when Ganguly spoke briefly with reporters, he seemed to have conceded defeat. But then, things changed dramatically post-dinner, when Srinivasan was asked to join Jay Shah along with Anurag and Sarma in a closed-door huddle, with a few powerful voices joining by phone.
After about 30 minutes, sources said, Srinivasan was asked to announce Ganguly’s nomination. Even as he was being summoned to this meeting, Ganguly told reporters before taking the elevator that Brijesh would be president. Later, he revealed, he got to know only close to midnight that he had become the consensus candidate.