Srinivasan assures fair probe, pleads innocence (Roundup)

Kolkata, May 26 (IANS) Under-fire Indian cricket board president N. Srinivasan Sunday again ruled out his resignation and announced that a commission will be set up to probe Chennai Super Kings chief executive and his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan’s role in the spot fixing scandal, and said he will not have any role to play in its selection or work.

Amid the clamour for his ouster from the top post of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Srinivasan held a media conference here barely hours before the Indian Premier League (IPL) final between Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.

Srinivasan reiterated that he had “done no wrong”, even as he made a surprising statement that Meiyappan was only an “enthusiast travelling with the team”.

Facing a barrage of tough posers, the BCCI president used strong language to attack his critics, among whom he included the media, and made a series of announcements and pledges about the board taking necessary steps to “justify the faith the public have in IPL and Indian cricket”.

“I will not shirk my duty… the BCCI will act without fear or favour to investigate, and, if the circumstances so warrant, punish any player, match official, team management or franchise that have breached BCCI or IPL regulations.”

Srinivasan termed as untrue, media reports of a “revolt in the BCCI” and said there was unity in the board.

“I have not been asked by anybody to resign. To the contrary, my support is complete and I refuse to yield to unfair and motivated attacks. I intend to continue my duties as president of the BCCI,” Srinivasan told mediapersons.

Betraying his discomfort at the volley of bouncers he had to negotiate at the media meet, Srinivasan chose to go on the offensive against his detractors.

“Persons who have been suspended by the BCCI, known defaulters, fugitives from India justice system and other vested interests keen to discredit me and the BCCI have indulged in a smear campaign since the last few days.

“The unfair attack has been relentless. TV news channels have been carrying unverifiable reports devoid of truth,” said Srinivasan in a statement he himself read out to the media.

Commenting on the proposed commission, he said it would include one independent member and two out of the following five: BCCI senior vice president Arun Jaitley, BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla, former India skipper Ravi Shastri and BCCI secretary Sanjay Jagdale.

“I am not part of the commission and I will not play any role in its appointment, deliberation or decisions,” Srinivasan said, but failed to give a time-frame for the panel to submit its report. “It will do it swiftly” was all he would say.

“With regard to Gurunath Meiyappan, the legal process is already started and he is facing police investigation. The BCCI has already taken the decision to provisionally suspend him.

“The commission will adjudicate whether Gurunath is in breach of operational rules which would have adverse effect on the image or reputation of the BCCI or the IPL (or) which will otherwise bring the entity into disrepute.”

Srinivasan said the management of Rajasthan Royals, three of whose players were arrested May 16 along with 11 bookies thus exposing the scam, will also be subject to the same procedure.

He said the BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit’s report on the allegations of spot fixing against Rajasthan Royals players — S. Sreesanth, Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila — would be issued on time. He pledged that the board will continue to offer assistance to police.

Srinivasan said the commission would look into whether Maiyappan was owner of Chennai Super Kings franchise or whether it has breached the operational rules of the franchise agreement.

“He (Gurunath) has been travelling with the team. He is enthusiastic. What his role was… whether he transcended any rule… the commission will find out,” said a distinctly uncomfortable Srinivasan, as mediapersons virtually grilled him on how his son-in-law managed to be in the team dug-out or carried a franchise accreditation despite being a mere “enthusiast”.

“The last few days have been difficult for the BCCI and for me as president. Also difficult for me as a father and a father-in-law… if some relative has done anything, then let the law deal with it,” he added.

Srinivasan refused to respond to the demand for his resignation by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), led by former BCCI president Sharad Pawar.

“I don’t have to respond to that. NCP is not a member of the BCCI,” he said.

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