ven in the worst of times, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has lived up to its 'reputation' of being a private cosy club without barriers or borders. Things are slowly changing. As it stands, mudslinging is the order of the day.
A day after a missive from the International Cricket Council (ICC) intimating BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya of BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur's proximity to an individual suspected of betting on cricket made its way to the media, the BJP leader hit back with a stinging open letter to N Srinivasan.
In his letter, Thakur, a Lok Sabha MP from Himachal Pradesh, slammed Srinivasan for having "not reconciled with my election as BCCI secretary". Even though the ICC letter was signed by chief executive David Richardson, former South African wicketkeeper-batsman, it's obvious that it was written at the behest of Srinivasan, the world body's chairman.
"The BCCI has received intimation from the ICC ostensibly under your direction that I should keep away from one Mr Karan Gilhotra who is a 'suspected bookie'. The intimation further states that the information is unverified. I have earlier been the joint secretary of the BCCI under your presidentship and I am now secretary, BCCI. I only wish that you had shared the list of 'unverified suspected bookies' with me and other colleagues, so that we could identify such persons and keep away from them. I have known this person who has been active in the political and cricketing activities in Punjab and adjacent states. I had no knowledge or any clue about his 'activities as a suspected bookie'," Thakur wrote.
The 40-year-old, who heads the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, saved his best for last. In an apparent reference to the betting-related activities of Gurunath Meiyappan, Srinivasan's son-in-law and former Chennai Super Kings team principal, Thakur wrote: "I would request (you to) at least now share with me or other colleagues in BCCI the list of suspected bookies in India, so that we may keep away from them. You may also share this information with your family members, whose involvement in betting has been proved."
Thakur also hit back at Srinivasan for using the services of Neeraj Gunde, a Mumbai-based freelance journalist who intimated the ICC of Thakur's closeness to Gilhotra. In fact, Gunde was in possession of some photographs of Thakur interacting with Gilhotra at a party hosted by the latter in Chandigarh last month. These pictures were also sent to the ICC.
"It is curious that the intimation about my having known this 'suspected bookie' was brought to the ICC notice by your friend Mr Neeraj Gundhe. Mr Neeraj Gunde incidentally is circulating to the media in Delhi the details of documents against your critics in the BCCI.
He operates on your behalf. A procured complaint and an ICC advisory based on 'unverified information' was issued at your behest on the eve of the BCCI working committee meeting. It was intended to be a counter-offensive on your behalf, since you have not reconciled with my election as secretary, BCCI," Thakur added.
A source in the Srinivasan camp told dna that Thakur must come clean on the issue. "It's one thing to write a fancy letter. What about his proximity to the concerned individual whose name is on the ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit's database? He has very conveniently sidestepped that query. He must come clear on that," the source said. Srinivasan is now holidaying in London. He is expected to return to Chennai on Wednesday.
Thakur did not issue any further clarification. Attempts to reach him didn't bear fruit. The BCCI has also kept mum even though some officials like IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla, a senior Congress leader, have spoken out in support of Thakur.
dna, the only newspaper to have contacted Gilhotra on Sunday, elicited a response from the Chandigarh-based businessman on Monday, too.
"It's obvious that this is a war between Srinivasan and my friend Anurag. Everyone must acknowledge the fact that Anurag has made it public that he knows me as someone who is involved in political and cricket-related activities in Punjab and other states.
"He trusts me like any friend would. I would now request the ICC to make public any such information which they claim they have against me. They maligned me and Anurag by leaking that letter. It's time they gave me proof of my so-called involvement in betting on cricket. If not, they must clear my name. I can't be called a suspected bookie."