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Back where it all began

At the peak of his career, cricket administrator Jagmohan Dalmiya earned the nickname Machiavelli of Indian cricket, master of realpolitik, a man capable of swimming back to the shore even when thrown right into the middle of the ocean. That notion got strengthened further on Monday after the 74-year-old administrator from Bengal was unanimously elected the president of BCCI at the board’s much-deferred 2014 Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Chennai.

Dalmiya’s election also brought to an end the decade-long reign of outgoing President N Srinivasan, who could not contest for the top post owing to a Supreme Court directive. However, the Tamil Nadu strongman will continue to represent the Indian cricket board at the International Cricket Council (ICC) as its chairman.

The road for Dalmiya was cleared after former President Sharad Pawar failed to get a proposer from east zone, forcing the veteran NCP leader out of the race. After losing his strong hold over BCCI’s affairs in 2005 when Dalmiya first lost an election, the Kolkata-based businessman had to endure court cases, political pressure, corruption charges, arrest and even expulsion from the BCCI following opposition from the formidable coalition of Pawar, Shashank Manohar, Srinivasan, and Lalit Modi.

Around the same time, even the then West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee used all his power to oust Dalmiya from the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). However, Dalmiya held on against all odds and slowly started to mend fences with his detractors, an effort which finally culminated in his return to the top of the board, the richest in world cricket.

After cutting his teeth in Bengal cricket administration, Dalmiya first became BCCI treasurer in 1983 and then served as its Secretary before becoming the ICC chief in 1997. After a three-year stint as ICC’s full-time head honcho, Dalmiya was elected BCCI president in 2001. In in 2004, Dalmiya-backed presidential candidate Ranbir Singh Mahendra edged out Pawar, Union Minister at that time, in a closely-fought election. But in 2005, the Pawar camp used all means to oust Dalmiya, the first person to generate money for Indian cricket through television rights.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then which totally transformed the economic dynamics of international cricket and Dalmiya takes over the BCCI reins in rather difficult circumstances. With cricket’s image reeling under the murky spot-fixing saga, Dalmiya will have to launch “Operation Clean-Up”, a promise he made during his brief stint as BCCI’s interim President in 2013.
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