New Delhi - The death of Indian cricket
supremo Jagmohan Dalmiya was set to trigger a new leadership battle in the
game's global powerhouse, with experts Monday predicting vicious infighting
between rival factions.
Dalmiya, president of the Board of Control
for Cricket in India (BCCI), died Sunday at a hospital in Kolkata where he was
being treated for a heart condition, with no designated successor.
The 75-year-old was widely hailed Monday as
the man who transformed India into the most powerful nation in international
cricket by presiding over a massive increase in TV revenues.
Observers also warned his death could
signal fresh turmoil at the top of the board, with Narayanaswami Srinivasan,
the controversial head of the International Cricket Council (ICC), tipped to
try and wrest back power.
The death of Dalmiya came only months after
his own return to the helm of the BCCI as a consensus candidate following
Srinivasan's effective toppling in a corruption scandal.
With Dalmiya's funeral due to take place in
Kolkata later on Monday, BCCI officials have refused to be drawn publicly on the
But veteran cricket commentator Ayaz Memon
said Dalmiya was the only person who had been able "to keep a semblance of
decorum intact" between rival factions.
"The power struggle will be there
between the two powerful factions. The only thing is it will be subterranean
rather than out in the open," Memon said.
The Hindustan Times said supporters of both
Srinivasan and his rival Anurag Thakur, who is BCCI secretary and the board's
de facto number two, were gearing up for battle, predicting "tricky days
ahead for the BCCI".
Srinivasan was forced to stand down as BCCI
president after being found guilty of a conflict of interest over his ownership
of a team in the Indian Premier League, the BCCI's money-spinning Twenty20
The blow was softened as he became chairman
of the ICC but India's pre-eminent position means it is usually the BCCI rather
than the sport's governing body that calls the shots on major decisions
affecting the game.
Thakur is the head of the youth wing of
India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party as well as being an MP, giving him
crucial political clout in the battle against Srinivasan's allies who remain on
With Dalmiya largely absent from the scene,
relations between the two camps have become increasingly bitter.
Thakur recently accused Srinivisan of
employing private detectives to eavesdrop on BCCI officials.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one
BCCI official said a special general meeting would have to be convened within
15 days to elect a new chairman, expressing hope of "a consensus
But cricket writer Vijay Lokapally said
there was no obvious unity candidate.
"It's an unprecedented situation
because no sitting BCCI chief has died in office before. I am sure there will
be a big tussle now for the position," Lokapally said.
The political infighting within the BCCI
has become more intense over the last two decades, coinciding with India's rise
within the game.
Dalmiya, who held a variety of BCCI posts,
first came to prominence by bringing the 1987 and 1996 World Cups to the
He helped negotiate television deals worth
tens of millions of dollars, a remarkable turnaround given the BCCI originally
paid India's public broadcaster to televise matches.
Cash-strapped cricket nations such as Sri
Lanka and the West Indies grew increasingly dependent on Indian tours and TV
deals for their financial survival, making them desperate to stay onside with
Dalmiya went on to become ICC president
from 1997-2000 and BCCI president from 2001 to 2004 before being marginalised
and then expelled over allegations of financial irregularities of which he was
His comeback in elections in March was seen
as a vindication of his long battle to clear his name, but health problems
meant he left much of the board's day-to-day running to Thakur.