In the late 1980s, John Gotti, the head of the most powerful Mafia crime family in the USA- the Gambinos- used to be called ‘the Teflon Don’ by the American media, since none of the charges brought against him by the Federal Bureau of Investigation seemed to stick. Gotti escaped a jail sentence on three separate occasions in the 1980s. Although the evidence against him was overwhelming, he got away scot free each time due to the failing memories of key witnesses and general misconduct of the juries, due to coercion and intimidation. The name stuck for a long time, but finally he was brought down in 1991, when one of the key members of his empire, Salvatore ‘The Bull’ Gravano, testified against him. He was sent to prison for life.
Now if you think for a minute about the present predicament of the former (present?) president of the BCCI, Mr. N. Srinivasan then you would notice an eerie similarity between the ‘Teflon’ qualities that he seemed to display whenever a charge used to be brought up against him. However, a question that cannot be avoided anymore on the back of the evens of the past few weeks is this- has the ‘Teflon’ finally eroded or has he come across his very own Salvatore ‘The Bull’ Gravano in the shape of the Bihar Cricket Association ? Mr. Srinivasan has been in the midst of many controversies over the years and wriggled out of them, without always- if you pardon the pun- playing with a straight bat.
The Heady Days
The first time that Mr. Srinivasan’s name surfaced in something that could be construed as against the spirit of the BCCI’s sanctions was when the company he owned – India Cements – bought the Chennai franchise of the IPL. He was the treasurer of the BCCI at the time and hence it was a clear case of conflict of interest, according to the constitution of the BCCI no less. So what did he do? He collected enough votes to get an amendment sanctioned in one of the AGM’s so that the particular part of the constitution that troubled him was taken down. However, this was just the start as ‘Srini’, as he is affectionately called, went on to far more daring acts like rigging the auctions in 2009 so that the Chennai Super Kings could acquire Andrew Flintoff or instructing who the umpires should be whenever the CSK played.
Now, these were certain things that came out only after Lalit Modi was ousted by the BCCI and he started a one man crusade against Srinivasan and his cohorts. Modi was made a pariah (in effect a fugitive as well) simply due to Srinivasan’s ambition of becoming the BCCI president.
The First Signs of a Wobble
That far everything seemed to be going fine as nothing stuck the Teflon coating that he seemed to have developed but the first chinks were noticed earlier this year, when his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan was arrested for having allegedly indulged in betting and other associated malpractices related to match fixing.
Although he stuck to his guns and reiterated plenty of times in all press conferences that ‘I have done nothing wrong’, it all sounded hollow as Meiyappan, his son in law, was the team’s ‘principal’ (whatever that means). In addition to that, the very fact that Meiyappan was a team official meant that the Chennai Super Kings (a team owned by his own company, mind you) faced suspension from the IPL for bringing the tournament into disrepute. However, nothing of the sort happened as Srinivasan labelled him as merely a cricket ‘enthusiast’, who travelled with the team. He held on to his post for sometime amid widespread cries for his ouster but he did not budge an inch from his position. Finally, a compromise was reached (you must remember that Srinivasan does not do compromises, which meant the Teflon was wearing thin) as Jagmohan Dalmiya was installed as the acting president till the enquiry on Meiyappan could be completed.
It seemed like a noble step, considering the fact that you can hardly expect an internal committee of the BCCI to act without bias if it was investigating the future of an official who also happens to be the son in law of the president. However, as expected, that three man committee gave Meiyappan a clean chit (not to be confused with chit funds) and another chapter in the murky world of the BCCI seemed to have ended.
That judgement, however seemed to be the beginning of all of Srinivasan’s troubles as fresh evidence was produced by the Mumbai Police – further strengthening their case against Meiyappan. Srinivasan however was unfazed as he prepared for the BCCI elections where he was to assume the leadership of the board for one more year, but that is when the disaster struck. The Bihar Cricket Association beat Srinivasan in his own game as they filed a petition in the Supreme Court demanding the highest court in the land to stop the elections. Now, although the Supreme Court did not do as much as to stop or dismiss the elections, they decided that Srinivasan cannot assume office even if he wins the election till his son in law has been cleared.
He won the election unopposed (the irony) but has been ordered not to take charge as the president. The fact that he won it unopposed does not prove that he still retains the Teflon coating, but the very fact that has been restrained from assuming office proves that his game might be up pretty soon. The evidence against Meiyappan is overwhelming and the investigation might go on for a pretty long time, which means that it would eat away into the one year extension that Srinivasan has got as a president. One way or the other, it is unlikely that we will see him as the BCCI president in the near future and even if we do it will probably be without that coat of Teflon.
Image Source: John Gotti