Pressure mounts on Srinivasan to resign, Gurunath faces questioning (Roundup)

Hyderabad/Mumbai/New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) The clamour for Indian cricket board president Narayanswamy Srinivasan’s resignation got louder after his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, Chennai Super Kings chief executive, Friday was taken away by Mumbai police for interrogation in the IPL spot fixing scandal.

Chennai Super Kings, however, sought to distance itself from Meiyappan, whose name cropped up during questioning of Bollywood actor Vindu Dara Singh Randhawa, the franchise saying Meiyappan was neither the chief executive nor the team principal and was just an honorary member of the management committee.

Meiyappan, who was untraceable for the past 48 hours, was spotted at Srinivasan’s farmhouse in the hill station of Kodaikanal, some 500 km from Chennai. He left for Mumbai by a chartered flight from Madurai and was greeted by the Crime Branch officials on arrival, well after the deadline of 5 p.m. set by Mumbai police.

Srinivasan, however, remained in the line of fire with Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy and former International Cricket Council (ICC) and BCCI president Sharad Pawar’s party Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) calling for his resignation as BCCI chief on moral grounds.

Sources in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said Srinivasan, who was aspiring to be the next ICC president, was likely to step down if Mumbai police arrest Meiyappan, who has been accused of having links with bookies.

Meiyappan’s name in the spot fixing scandal emerged after Mumbai police arrested Vindu Dara Singh, whose call records showed that he was in constant touch with the BCCI president’s son-in-law. Vindu was often seen at the VIP boxes, as an invitee of Meiyappan, during Super Kings matches in the IPL.

Among other developments Friday, a court granted Mumbai police custody of Vindu till May 28 besides of two others – hawala operator Alpesh Taneja and a bookie, Prem Taneja.

Meanwhile, Gurunath’s alleged involvement in the scandal has put Srinivasan in a spot of bother. The 35-year-old is the son-in-law of Srinivasan, whose India Cements owns IPL’s Chennai franchise.

The series of events led India Cements to issue a statement that Gurunath was not Super Kings chief and rather an honorary member of team management. However, Gurunath has introduced himself as Super Kings team principal on his Twitter account.

In a statement issued here, India Cements’ executive director T.S.Raghupathy said: “India Cements clarifies that Mr. Gurunath Meiyappan is neither the Owner, nor CEO / Team Principal of Chennai Super Kings. Mr. Gurunath is only one of the Members (Honorary) of the Management Team of Chennai Super Kings.”

That clarification did notr cut ice with Sharad Pawar’s party NCP, which demanded that Srinivasan quit immediately “if he has any sense of morality and public accountability”.

Sahara chief Subrata Roy fired another salvo, saying he would immediately stop sponsoring the Indian team if N. Srinivasan continues to be the president of the BCCI. Roy said the BCCI’s style of functioning “is disgusting, irritating and frustrating”.

“Person like Srinivasan does not know how to run cricket. Sahara will not sponsor Team India till N. Srinivasan stays as its chief,” Roy was quoted as saying by a TV channel.

Following the dispute with the BCCI over franchise fee, which it wanted to be lowered, Sahara Group has already pulled out its Pune Warriors India franchise from the Indian Premier League, and decided not to sponsor Team India after the contract ends in December 2013.

Earlier Friday, Delhi Police arrested a bookie from the Hyderabad airport.

“One of the arrested bookies, Chandresh Patel, revealed Ahya’s name. We will be bringing him to Delhi,” a Delhi Police official said. This takes the number of arrests in the IPL spot fixing case to 19.

Ahya, based in Mumbai, was arrested by Delhi Police at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad when he was about to board a flight to Dubai, police sources said. He had reached Hyderabad from Mumbai by road and was trying to flee the country.

Shortly after their arrest, Joint Police Commissioner (Crime) Himanshu Roy said that the trio is linked to the bookies already arrested by Mumbai police and those who are wanted and are absconding. Police also recovered cash amounting to Rs.12.80 million from Taneja’s residence.

The IPL scam, which seems to be getting bigger by the day, came to light when Rajasthan Royals cricketers S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan were arrested on spot fixing charges last Wednesday.

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